Saanich inventor of flashlight powered by body heat continues to shine

The young woman behind a flashlight powered by body heat has been named to the Forbes 30 Under 30.

Victoria’s Ann Makosinski, a 19-year-old inventor and second-year University of B.C. student, made the cut in the energy category for creating a flashlight that runs off body heat.

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“I think I squealed a little. I was very, very excited,” Makosinski said. “I didn’t think I got it — I had been told I was nominated, but nothing was confirmed — so it was a complete and absolutely lovely surprise.”

It’s no easy feat making the list. Forbes magazine says fewer than four per cent of all nominees make the cut. (By comparison, Stanford University accepts 4.8 per cent of applicants, while Harvard accepts 5.2 per cent.)

Makosinski is in the process of signing a licensing deal with a Victoria-based manufacturer for the flashlight and future inventions.

“The flashlight model has been improved extensively, but we need real engineers to work on it,” she said.

She has also invented a coffee mug that can charge a phone battery using the heat from the beverage.

This isn’t the first such honour for Makosinski, the founder of Makotronics Enterprises.

In 2013, a Time magazine panel named her one of 30 people under 30 changing the world. She also won Google’s global science fair in her age category for the flashlight project.

But the 19-year-old is still figuring out where her interests lie and what she wants to do.

“I have so many activities that I do outside of school that it’s hard to find a degree that encompasses all of it,” she said, noting her current field of study — English literature — could change.

Makosinski, who has given several TEDx talks and twice appeared on The Tonight Show, said it’s been tough to juggle school and her busy speaking schedule.

“In September after the first week of school I left to go to Geneva,” she said. She spoke at a private event for the Pictet Group, then travelled to London before speaking engagements in Pittsburgh, Detroit and Vancouver in October.

The St. Michaels University School grad said her latest honour means a lot as Forbes has brought “so much awareness to the young maker/inventor movement” and she hopes her story will help inspire other young inventors.

It may also spur on her career.

“I suppose it will help with my online presence and creating a little more of a following for when my products come to market,” she said, adding: “People need to remember it’s just [an award], it’s the work the individual is doing that matters.”

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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