19-year-old UBC inventor on Forbes top-30-under-30 list

Glen Schaefer, Postmedia Network

, Last Updated: 10:24 PM ET

A spot on Forbes magazine’s top-30-under-30 list is just the latest accolade for 19-year-old inventor Ann Makosinski, who has a full plate with second-year classes at the University of B.C., speaking engagements around the world and efforts to bring her two inventions — a flashlight powered by body heat and a coffee mug that charges mobile phones — to market.

U.S. business publication Forbes this week named Makosinski to its list of 30 young innovators in the field of energy. The magazine named young leaders in a total of 20 categories, with the 600 winners chosen from among 15,000 nominees.

“There’s a big summit, the Forbes under 30 summit, that happens in October,” Makosinski said Wednesday. “This year I can go for free, hopefully. Then I can meet a lot of my idols.”

The Victoria-raised, self-described “tinkerer” drew international acclaim — and a US$ 25,000 scholarship from tech giant Google — three-and-a-half years ago for inventing a flashlight powered by the warmth of a human hand. She hasn’t rested since, following up with the phone-charging coffee cup, a TEDx talk and two appearances on Jimmy Fallon’s late-night U.S. talk show.

A year ago, she won a $ 50,000 clean-energy grant from Shell Canada in recognition of her phone-charger invention.

The knack for invention and science started when her parents gave the preteen a glue gun. But when it came time for post-secondary education, she focused on the arts.

“I’m taking English literature, which is a little bit of a surprise to a lot of people, including myself,” she said. Her course load this year includes multiple literature classes, film and two science courses.

“I don’t really know what I’m doing with my life,” she said. “I think every teenager is still figuring it out, and I’m kind of at a point where my interests inside of school and interests outside of school are a little bit different. I’m trying to figure out how to put them together to make some sort of living when I’m older.”

Big news for her last October was turning 19, old enough for her to set up her own company — which she did between speaking trips to Geneva, London, England, Pittsburgh and Detroit. In the first few months of 2017, she’ll speak to an audience at Microsoft in Seattle, and to a student audience in Ireland.

“I’m trying to accumulate (travel) points,” she said.

She’s also working on a book, which an agent is shopping to publishers, and she’s dealing with lawyers over negotiations on a licensing deal to put her two inventions into production, possibly by the end of 2017.

“Business is quite unpredictable,” Makosinski said.

With all that, she hasn’t come up with any new inventions of late, but she still has a soldering iron in her UBC dorm room.



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