David Moinina Sengeh
David Sengeh is a biomechatronics engineer who currently works with IBM Research in Nairobi, Kenya. His research and development efforts have led to multiple patents in the area of comfortable prosthetic interfaces. David was featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 in Technology for 2013; was a 2014 TED Fellow; was selected for the Wired Smart List 2013; won the Lemelson-MIT National Collegiate Student Prize in 2014; and was named a 2015 National Geographic Emerging Explorer, among other awards and recognition. He is president and a co-founder of Global Minimum Inc., a charitable organization that encourages young innovators and leaders in Africa to tackle challenges affecting their communities through applying critical thinking skills and hands-on learning programs.
Paul Bottino introduces David Moinina Sengeh:
I first encountered David in the summertime before his freshman year, when he cold-called me from overseas about an idea he had for a prosthetics bank for the amputees of Sierra Leone. I think we talked for two hours and considered almost every facet of the idea from every angle. When summer ended and he came to school, David started visiting me in my office, about once a week, every week, for four years. Usually the visits came unannounced as David was moving between classes, but our conversations were always welcome and became the highlight of my week, as he brought news of his developing ideas, stories about people he’d met and drawn into his circle, connections to new things he’d been learning, and questions, questions, questions. David leads by doing, by setting an example of how the world can be explored, how connections can be made, how things can come together, and how a little bit of order can be wrought from the chaos. I think I learned more from mentoring him than he did from me, but that’s a big part of his leadership; to always be teaching and learning at the same time.
Innovative leaders are always changing our view of what is possible, and David does that with unabashed enthusiasm, buoyant spirit, and open arms. With childlike wonder and scientific analysis, he absorbs the world around him, channels vast amounts of its scattered light through the prism of his globally humanistic values, and focuses intently on what he sees as a clear ray, immersed in its potential. You can’t help but be drawn to the glow of an idea that he has once he’s isolated it; then he starts to connect all the people and support he needs to cultivate it, and you are compelled to follow along. He carries an idea on his probability-defying enthusiasm and reaches out relentlessly, giving of himself and welcoming what others can contribute. There is seemingly no stasis with David. He is kinetic and evolving and always probing, through experimental action, the boundaries and limits of a concept; and the incarnations of that concept as it grows.
Paul Bottino is currently Executive Director and a lecturer at the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard University’s School of Engineering.