Ann Makosinski first discovered her love of inventing at the age of seven when she began hot-gluing discarded materials together, but it wasn’t until she began participating in grade school science fairs that she became interested in harvesting wasted energies. This fascination turned into determination when she later learned that a friend in the Southern Philippines was failing in school because a lack of reliable electricity in her home made it difficult to study.
Using Peltier tiles, Makosinski designed the Hollow Flashlight, which converts the heat radiating from the holder’s hand into electricity. The device won her the 2013 Google Science Fair in the 15-16 age category. In the future, she hopes her flashlight will be included in emergency kits and act as a light source for people like her friend, who live in places where electricity is unreliable.
Makosinski’s personal philosophy is to think of modern technology as inadequate; only then will we be able to improve it. Since 2013, she’s been hard at work inventing other creations such as the Peltier headlamp — a hands-free, chargeable iteration of the Hollow Flashlight — for which she received the West Youth Innovation award. Makosinski also designed a travel mug with the ability to charge phones by turning heat into energy, for which she won a $50,000 clean-energy grant.
In 2017, Forbes named Makosinski as one of its 30 Under 30 young innovators in the energy field. Regardless, she decided to turn down an engineering scholarship to pursue her other passion: the arts. While she isn’t certain what the future has in store, Makosinski continues to work on her inventions in her own time.