British Columbia

UBC student Ann Makosinski wins $50K for phone-charging mug

A first-year University of British Columbia student has won $50,000 for inventing a phone-charging travel mug that harnesses heat from hot beverages to create energy.

Teen and her invention were recently featured on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

Ann Makosinski, 18, invented a travel mug that creates energy that can power smart phones. (CBC)

A first-year University of British Columbia student has won $50,000 for inventing a phone-charging travel mug that harnesses heat from hot beverages to create energy. 

Ann Makosinski, 18, won the Quest Climate Change Grant, along with five other Canadian recipients, on Dec. 16. 

The teenager invented the heat-powered mug when she noticed two pervasive problems among her friends: depleted batteries on their smart phones and coffee too hot to gulp down between classes. 

"I decided to combine both of those problems and find a solution with my e-drink," Makosinski said. 

She recently debuted her invention on the Tonight Show with host Jimmy Fallon.

"It was just a really great time," said Makosinski, a self-described show business aficionado. 

Not her first invention

It wasn't her first time on the show. Makosinski previously appeared alongside Fallon in February 2014 to show off the invention that got her a lot of attention at the tender age of 15: a flashlight powered by body heat. 

"I think that opened a lot of doors for me because of the awareness of my project," she said. 

Makosinski said she was driven to create the invention when a friend from the Philippines told her she failed a grade because she couldn't afford electricity to study at night. 

The project, called Hollow Flashlight, won her a prize in her age category at the Google Science Fair in 2013.

She then created a body-heat powered headlamp, which she presented in Toronto when she won the 2014 Weston Youth Innovation Award at 16. 

Future projects

The amount of light emitted by the flashlight is still an issue she said she's trying to resolve, but her new prize money will go toward finalizing both projects. 

"What I hope to happen next is to get both the e-drink and the flashlight into production with all the R & D and everything figured out, and just keep creating," she said. 

"I do hope to get them in stores and in developing countries, specifically for the flashlight, in 2016."

For other teens who marvel at her accomplishments at such a young age, Makosinski has advice. 

"What I kind of want to spread as my message to all kinds of youth that I get to reach out to is, you can do cool stuff, you've just got to put in time and be dedicated," she said.

With files from Kamil Karamali