Self taught teen from Sierra Leone invited to MIT Media Lab

Youngest visiting practitioner at 16 years old runs a radio station he built himself
At 16 years of age, Kelvin Doe or DJ Focus is the youngest person ever to be invited to MIT Media Lab as a Visiting Practitioner. Even more remarkable is that Doe lives in Sierra Leone, an African nation on the path to recovery from civil war, and he’s already an accomplished, self taught maker. Prior to his visit, he had never traveled more than 10 miles from his town.
Doe was given the opportunity to spend three weeks at MIT as part of their International Development Initiative program, after becoming a finalist in Innovate Salone. Innovate Salone’s a contest started by fellow Sierra Leone local and PhD candidate at MIT David Sengeh to challenge and stimulate young people to solve many of the complex issues of their country which has recently emerged from a decade long civil conflict.
“Sierra Leone is now the most stable country in sub-Saharan Africa,” says Senegh. “It is the perfect country to do things like Innovate Salone. It’s very small, it’s stable and it’s full of bright, innovative youth.”
Many of Doe’s creations are drawn from needs that he sees in his own community. Power is unreliable in Doe’s neighbourhood and commercial batteries are too expensive. So, at the age of 13, he created batteries from acid, soda, and metal to help provide basic lighting to houses. He has also created an FM transmitter to run a radio station with his friends to engage, empower, and entertain his community. During his time at MIT, Doe was able to collaborate on projects and meet with leading researchers and technology experts such as Nicholas Negroponte.
Watch the video for Doe’s inspiring story.


David is an industrial designer from New Zealand. He contributes a weekly article on personal fabrication for Ponoko. Follow him on Twitter!

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2 Responses to “Self taught teen from Sierra Leone invited to MIT Media Lab”

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