MANILA, Philippines – Twenty-year-old Angelo Casimiro dreams of collaborating with Tesla CEO Elon Musk someday. And who knows, this dream may not be far from reality.
Casimiro, a BS Electronics and Communications Engineering student at De La Salle University-Manila (DLSU-M), has been known online for his projects such as the insole power generator and the life-size BB-8.
“Nag-study ako ng film, tapos nahilig ako ng photography. Then in-incorporate ko ‘yung (I studied film, then I also got into photography. Then I incorporated) filming, photography, and lighting with my inventions in order to use it efficiently to spread about my projects. Konting concept of marketing in order to sell your idea,” he shares.
Childhood tech projects
At 4 years old, Casimiro got interested in making tech-related projects. He recalls that after school, his parents would drop him off at his grandparents’ house, and he would bond with his late grandfather, an engineer, over projects they did together.
Casimiro recalls that when he was 6, his grandfather helped him make his first wind turbine. “It’s like a vertical windmill then we placed it on the roof. ‘Yun ‘yung first wind turbine ko gamit ‘yung fan sa kotse (That was my first wind turbine using a car fan).”
While most of his childhood tech projects just remain part of his memory, there is one that survived – a speaker he made out of a file case.
“Mga simpleng project – doon ako natuto sa basics (I learned the basics from simple projects),” he said.
At age 12, Casimiro started innovating. He would use old circuits to create a new circuit. “Let’s say may solar-powered charger circuit tapos mabubuo ko siya. Tapos kakabit ko siya sa light trigger sensor circuit. ‘Pag pinagsama mo siya, para ka nang may automated system for solar lighting.”
(Let’s say there’s a solar powered charger circuit then I’ll complete it. Then I’ll connect it to a light trigger sensor circuit. If you put them together it’s like you have an automated system for solar lighting.)
What got Angelo in the spotlight
Many people have seen Casimiro’s insole power generator while browsing online. He says it’s an original idea since at the time he made it, most of the insole generators were mechanical. His project was among the first using the piezoelectric concept, which converts mechanical energy into electrical energy.
This scientific study got him into Google Science Fair 2014, and was the first Filipino entry to win an award there. Casimiro says he made it because he’s a fan of renewable energy projects.
On his life-size BB-8 project, Casimiro says he made it for fun during the hype of Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie. “Nung pinanood ko, sabi ko ang cool naman ni BB-8 When I watched [the movie], I said BB-8 is so cool).”
Casimiro admits he got frustrated while doing the BB-8 project since it was a challenge for him not to have enough equipment like a 3D printer and a laser cutter. He also had little knowledge about AutoCAD and 3D modelling during that time. He overcame this by using their household materials.
For this project, Casimiro says his father painted the BB-8 while he did the electronics part.
When asked, Casimiro says he has no plan to reproduce his projects. “Na-realize ko na medyo premature ‘yung technology natin. Mas mag-i-invest ako doon sa projects na sure ako na mabebenta ‘yung technology no’n.”
(I realized that our technology is premature. I would rather invest in projects with technology that I’m sure would sell.)
Of all the tech competitions he has joined, Casimiro says the Sumobot competition was the most memorable. “It’s like a fighting robot. In building the robots, you learn programming. Doon ako natuto ng general knowledge sa robotics – ‘yung digital electronics (That’s where I learned the general knowledge about robotics – the digital electronics).”
Your ordinary guy
Who is Angelo Casimiro aside from these projects? People who don’t know him well may typecast him as a nerd but the 20-year-old says he’s just an ordinary guy. He loves to play basketball, play the piano, and do film on the side. He also travels and practices photography.
Casimiro also dispels the popular notion that all tech innovators excel – or need to excel – in math. “You can excel in electronics even though you’re not good in math. You can excel through the practical part. Pero ‘yun yung na-realize ko nung nasa engineering ako, mahina ako sa math (But that’s what I realized when I got in engineering, I’m weak in math),” he says.
On giving back, Casimiro shares he does tutorial videos because he wants to inspire the youth. “You teach the youth they could do more at such a young age.”
Casimiro says he draws inspiration from daily problems in life. “Sometimes you encounter a problem then you want to buy something that will help your work get easier, but there isn’t something like that. So I try to make them from scratch. I make a project that would solve it,” he says.
For those who think creating gadgets is difficult, Casimiro has this advice: “Failure is your best teacher. Don’t be discouraged whenever you encounter failure. Don’t let failures define you because they [will] make you stronger. If a kid could make it, so could you.” (READ: 8 inspiring kids, teens prove age should never hold you back)
According to Casimiro, it is important to have the courage to try new things: “Start with creating something small then work on something bigger. That’s how you learn and that’s how you get better in your own field.”
Looking back on his childhood, Casimiro says while his parents supported his hobby, they would sometimes hesitate – whenever he would ask them to buy him something, he would also tell them that he would disassemble the items later.
“Hindi pa nila nakikita that time ‘yung kaya kong gawin with the things na sinisira ko. Sobrang curious ko kung ano ‘yung nasa loob nya. Kunwari electric fan, sabi ko bakit ba umiikot to? I’m always curious about something,” he says.
(At the time, they still couldn’t see what I was capable of doing with the things I was breaking apart. I was so curious about what it had inside. For example, an electric fan, I thought, why is it rotating? I’m always curious about something.)
Casimiro thanks his parents for not spoiling him even when they had the means to get him anything he asked for.
“They told me I need to work for it. If ever I wanted a phone, kailangan ko kumita out of my own money para makita ko ‘yung essence of money (I need to earn my own money so I can see the essence of money),” he says.
This was when he started doing online tutorials. He thought he could earn from them and buy the tools he would need for his projects. Later, he also also saw the tutorials as a way of giving back to younger people with the same interests.
“You don’t need a big capital if ever you want to go into research and development. There are ways where you can achieve it through online contests,” Casimiro says.
He shares he only started with a soldering iron and a glue gun when he embarked on his initial projects. “Wala akong sophisticated tools or power tools. (I didn’t have sophisticated or power tools). I just started with those two.”
While his parents now support him and buys him items for a project, Casimiro also uses his prize money for big projects.
“You earn money out of your own hobby. Parang ganoon ‘yung nangyari sa akin right now (That seems to my case right now),” he says.
What is Casimiro’s ultimate tech dream project? He says he wants to have research and development company that sells purely Filipino-made electric cars or e-jeepneys.
He says he has liked cars ever since. No wonder he’s part of DLSU-Manila’s eco car team as the designer of the motor controller, which Casimiro calls “almost the heart of your car.”
When asked about his dream collaboration, Casimiro says he wants to meet Elon Musk. His proposed idea focuses on a fast and economical way of transportation through magnetic levitation.
With such big projects in mind, Casimiro may just be getting started but he surely knows where he’s going. – Rappler.com