Spotlight on Canadian Inventor: Ann Makosinski
Ann Makosinski is a young Canadian inventor, best known for her invention of the thermoelectric flashlight. Inspired by visits to her mother's homeland in the Philippines, where students failed in high school because they didn't have enough light to study at night, Ann developed a flashlight that could be powered by the touch of your hand. She won the Google Science Fair for her creation. At only 23 years old, she has a long and exciting career ahead of her!
You've accomplished so much already at such a young age! You're a young Canadian inventor known for creating the thermoelectric flashlight- tell us how you came about with the idea.
I had been doing science fair projects since I was in fifth grade, and when I was in grade ten my friend in the Philippines (I'm half Filipino and half Polish) told me that she had failed her grade in school because her family couldn't afford electricity, so she had no light to study with at night. I decided to try and create a solution for her - a battery-free flashlight. At first I made a flashlight that ran off the kinetic energy of humans, but found it too tedious to use. I ended up making the Hollow Flashlight - a flashlight that runs off the heat of the human hand, using thermoelectric generators and a special circuit.
What was the process like to go from idea to invention?
It's not easy, but the creative process is always fun, no matter the unpredictable ups and downs that may come along. I don't have a lot of words to describe it because it's different for everyone, and it's just something that you sit down and start doing. By the end, you realize it was the creative journey towards taking the idea in your head and making it into something physical in front of you that you learned the most from.
You've spoken at TEDx and were featured on Jimmy Fallon! As a public speaker, do you have any tips for others looking to improve their public speaking skills?
I'll be real, not everyone naturally loves public speaking. I was a very performative kid growing up, always participating in plays and reading poetry at public libraries. I loved presenting my inventions to my parents when I was kid and making things out of garbage/spare parts. If you do want to improve your own skills, take as many opportunities as you can to talk in public. Best to rip the bandaid off and expose yourself as much as possible. Practice talking to yourself in your room, record yourself, write down your speeches ahead of time, take acting classes. I honestly make up most of my speeches as I go, I just have presentation decks with visuals that help guide myself through the talk. Everyone has a different process. On second thought, I HIGHLY recommend acting classes for anyone who gets flustered when talking in front of others. Studying acting has been one of the most valuable learning experiences in my life.
We are thrilled that you love Katla! What about the brand resonates with you?
I love that Katla has tracking numbers/codes for each piece of clothing made - that to me feels like a much more forward thinking approach to sustainable fashion. You can look up and track each piece that's been made, making the clothing experience feel much more personal and that you own a valuable piece of sustainable fashion. Plus, all the designs are super cute and made with sustainable, high quality materials. It's also admirable that Katla allows the buyer to return the garment so it can be recycled properly after the owner is finished wearing it. I also love all the beautiful animals of Iceland on their hoodies etc., as a big animal fan, it's very endearing and a great way to teach your friends about important wildlife!
What changes do you hope to see in the fashion industry in the future?
I hope every piece (like Katla!) is made to order, or at least made in much smaller batches than conventional fashion is currently being created. So much fabric and energy goes to waste and is dumped in landfills if it isn't sold or sits in storage for years. I wish we could all just be less wasteful. I hope the fashion industry is also more inclusive of all sizes, genders, races etc.. I grew up as a half-Asian teenager believing I'd never have the ideal "model" type body or appearance, but the older I get, the more I learn to appreciate and celebrate who I am and what makes me unique, instead of wishing I looked like somebody else.
What's next for you?
Oooh I wish I could share with you! The start of 2021 held some very big changes for me, all of which I am so grateful to have gone through. I'm starting to dive a little more into the film/tv world, and hopefully I'll have some news to report back to you this year. Other than work, I'm still plugging away (albeit virtually) on my university degree in English Literature, and trying to push myself out of my comfort zone a little every day.
Do you have a life motto?
I feel like my life motto changes everyday, depending on what I need to encourage and support myself on that day.
I try to learn a little bit more everyday of whatever is currently fascinating me, and I actively try to work towards my long term goals everyday. If I did have to choose a single life motto, it would be "Don't waste time!" - Time is fleeting and we can never buy it back...