19-year-old B.C. inventor makes 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list

Source: CTV News

19-year-old B.C. inventor makes 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list

A 19-year-old Canadian inventor has been honoured in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for creating a flashlight powered by the heat of the human hand and a mug that can charge a phone battery via hot coffee.

Ann Makosinski, a second-year student at the University of British Columbia, has already received numerous accolades for her work, including being named in Time’s 30 Under 30 list in 2013 and winning first place in her age group at the 2013 Google Science Fair.

But on a personal level, she says making Forbes’ list was special.

“It’s been a little goal of mine for a while, so it was great to finally get there,” Makosinski told CTV News Channel on Tuesday.

Makosinski said she knew she was nominated, but didn’t learn the news until she woke up to congratulatory text messages from friends. Other honourees in the “Energy” category include a 14-year-old who created a piezoelectric “leaf” device that harvests energy from sun, wind and rain and a 23-year-old who worked as an electrical engineer on the first airplane to circle the world with solar energy.

Makosinski is best known for two inventions. The Hollow Flashlight, a device that converts body heat into electricity to power an LED lightbulb, was developed after she learned of a friend living in the Philippines who fell behind in school because she didn’t have light to study at night.

She later developed the e-Drink, a mug that uses thermoelectric generators to harness excess heat from coffee to power a phone or music device. The invention landed her a guest appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where she showed off her creation.

“It was a really fun experience,” she said.

Both inventions have yet to hit the market, but Makosinski says she’s in talks to lock down a licensing deal for the flashlight.

Originally from Victoria, B.C., Makosinski credits her passion for invention with her childhood ingenuity.

“I wasn’t given many toys, so I’d have to take garbage from around the house and piece together ‘inventions’ – of course they never worked – but the idea of creating things with the resources around me was always there from the start. And then I did 10 science fairs from Grade 6 to Grade 12, so I was just making things constantly.”

She recalled the moment she learned she made Time’s 30 Under 30 list -- an honour that, at first, went over her head.

“To be honest, I didn’t even know what Time’s 30 Under 30 was until someone told me, and then I was like, ‘Oh, this is kind of cool.’ So it was a big surprise for me and also a wonderful thing to add to my resume.”