Inventor Erfan Nouraee on using youth-led innovations to build a sustainable future for all

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Erfan Nouraee is an inventor
Erfan Nouraee, 20, has invented a unique, low-cost optical communication sensor that can make reliable high-speed internet more accessible

Erfan Nouraee is a 20-year-old inventor, scientist and speaker from Canada. His passion is to use technology and innovation to invent devices that protect and conserve our environment from threats. Nouraee won the United Nations’ International Federation of Inventors’ Associations (IFIA) Invention and Innovation Competition in 2021.

Erfan’s mission is to inspire others to invent their own solutions and to promote the importance of protecting our environment through innovation.

“I am Erfan Nouraee, an inventor, technologist and a speaker. When I was 16 years old, I had an idea to make reliable high-speed internet accessible and affordable in every community and to reduce the waste of optical fibre cables that are harmful to our environment. After seeing how having no internet access has prevented many children and young people in my home country from using essential public services like health care and education to staying in touch with their friends and family, I created a new and low-cost device which can increase the quality of messages sent through light waves. Inspired by a local need as urgent as a global one, I developed sensors that can save and increase optical signals’ quality, prolong the life of the fibre optic cables and reduce their damaging byproducts. In 2021, I won the United Nations’ International Federation of Inventors’ Associations (IFIA) Invention Award with it.

Finding my interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) from childhood allowed me to develop skills in problem-solving. I had a passion for tinkering and taking random home materials from around the house and piecing them together to make something better. During high school, when I saw children of my country suffer from lack of internet access, I came up with a unique device that can make high-speed reliable internet accessible and affordable. From an early age, I was taught to use an inclusive approach to invention and problem solving for leveraging science and technology to create social change.

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Erfan Nouraee working on his inventions
Erfan Nouraee loves to tinker and experiment with everything from soldering circuits to connecting fibre optic cables

In addition, I believe in making a worldwide collaborative effort to empower the world’s biggest generation through innovation. In the midst of the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the world needs the creativity and leadership of young people to use their innovative youth-led solutions for the achievement of a more just and sustainable future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic for everyone. In other words, youth meaningful participation in innovation will give them a strong and global platform to advocate change.

It is no surprise that young people who want to innovate face many barriers. Despite the advances in innovation and technology, many young people from minority communities are still left behind to access information. Two thirds of the world’s school-age children have no internet access at home, a new UNICEF-ITU report says. Using online research journals and my knowledge, I studied for coming up with inventions. Not everyone has access to online resources. For example, back in my home country, 28% of Iranians had no or limited internet access which makes distance learning and accessing important public services like health care and education impossible. In some provinces, only 40% of students had access to the Internet.

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Erfan Nouraee with Minister Mélanie Joly
Erfan Nouraee (left) with Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly(right) at Democracy Forum in Toronto.

From more affordable and high-quality internet access to mental health and climate change, I believe young people are at the frontlines of innovation and technology to build more resilient and inclusive industries that support COVID-19 recovery and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is my responsibility to inspire children and young people around the world to create their own solutions. Every one of us has a share in making the world a better place, and guiding stakeholders, such as policymakers and universities to support young innovators is important to leverage youth-led innovations for the achievement of a better future.

 

Image credit: https://www.alaataherphotography.com

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