On a table in Ann Makosinski’s University of B.C. dorm room is a table with a computer, a soldering iron, a pile of circuit boards, a wifi router, a mini 3D printer and a build-your-own oscilloscope.
And there might be some homework strewn in there too.
The 18-year-old from Gordon Head is keen on school but is the first to admit she could probably be a bit keener. Instead, a lot of her focus goes to her true love of inventing. And now as a recipient of the new $50,000 Quest Climate Grant from Shell Canada and Canadian Geographic magazine, she’s got more resources to put towards her two key products, the hollow flashlight and the E-Drink, she said.
“I’m hoping the flashlight will be available for sale this year, everything is being sorted out this month.”
It’s the latest accolade for the 2013 Canada-Wide Science Fair and Google Science Fair winner, and 2014 member of Time magazine’s 30 Under 30.
The money will go towards patent protection for her products, additional prototypes, and getting them into production. Some of the money will also go towards her UBC tuition.
It’s the inventor’s life.
Makosinski isn’t the first, and she won’t be the last to shun work and a social life to focus on her creations.
“Nonsense,” Makosinski says of the party life. ”I went out for New Year’s in Victoria, but I mainly huddle in my room. I should go out, maybe later in the semester.”
The St. Michaels University School grad is in her first year at UBC, studying electives and “figuring out” what major she’ll focus on. But her real focus is her inventions, as it has been for years. And with the advent of a mini 3D printer, which she got for Christmas, she has the power to produce prototypes in her dorm room. It’s led to many a Friday and Saturday night “hermitted” away while her peers are enjoying the university life.
For example, she has so many prototypes for the body-heat-powered hollow flashlight, she can’t actually count them. She does know where the original is, however.
“Actually there’s two, one is on my bookshelf and the other is in a museum in Toronto,” she laughed.
“I have a lot of lot of prototypes, I don’t know how many, I’m always working with different shapes and designs.”
In actuality, it would be preposterous to suggest Makosinski is truly lacking in a social life or social skills. She twice stole laughs from Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon, as she appeared last March and then again in October during a young inventor’s segment where she received a cheque for $5,000.
Makosinski is flying to England next week to present at TedX 2016 London on Jan. 16.
Until then, she’ll be thinking about her yet-to-be-written TedX speech and trying to get the 3D printer to work. “It’s going to be great once I figure it out,” she joked. “I can’t wait.”