By Janis Fontaine
What if your Apple watch could charge itself by capturing your body heat? Some Ph.D. in Silicon Valley probably invented that, right?
Wrong. Andrew Dagher of Ocean Ridge, a senior at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, already holds the patent on the invention.
The “metabolic charging device” produces an electric current because of the thermoelectric Seebeck effect: “A temperature difference between two dissimilar electrical conductors or semiconductors produces a voltage difference between the two substances.”
In the watch example, the difference in temperature from your body on one side and the cooler temperature on other side (outside vs. inside the watch) produces a current. The greater the difference in temperature, the greater the current produced.
Through a series of contracts with the Florida Institute of Technology, a prototype was produced. Patent law experts did a deep dive on relevant research. Andrew set up a limited liability company to own the patents.
These were complicated business dealings for a person who turns 18 on March 11, but Andrew was up for the challenge.
“I’m extremely curious,” Andrew said. He started reading his father’s medical books when he was just a kid, but admits he gets lightheaded at the sight of blood so becoming a doctor like his father just wasn’t going to work.
“Medicine is my favorite thing,” he said, but he plans to major in finance and mechanical engineering. In reality, “I’ll be acquiring all the tools I need to build a business.”
There’s no shortage of projects percolating in that fertile mind: “I have 30 ideas on my phone at various stages.”
He says he does some of his best thinking when he’s driving with Kodak Black, Kendrick Lamar or The Weeknd playing on the stereo.
But don’t mistake his intellect for introversion. In conversation, Andrew is leaning in, making eye contact and not checking his phone. People around Andrew feel heard and seen, a gift of a real leader. “I have tons of friends and I’m very social,” he says.
Right now, tennis is Andrew’s extracurricular focus, and he’s captain of the Oxbridge tennis team. He also enjoys a round of golf and likes to work out. He wants to set a good example for his teammates, so he eats right, shuns caffeine and tries to get enough sleep, an issue for a lot of teens.
Andrew’s family is close. His parents, Dr. Sami and Joumana Dagher, came to the United States from Lebanon and his father’s two brothers also live and work nearby, so Andrew has a robust family to enrich his life.
From them, he has developed a set of guiding principles such as “Always do what’s right” and “Follow your gut.”
When he’s presented with a baffling problem or an issue he can’t resolve on his own, Andrew seeks out his father first.
“My dad helps a lot of people,” he said. “He taught me to weigh the ramifications of my actions.”
His second call is to his priest, the Rev. Gabriel Ghanoum at St. Nicholas Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Delray Beach. “He’s the most giving man on the planet and one of my personal heroes,” Andrew said.
Next fall, Andrew will head off to college, he hopes at Boston College. Andrew says his strong Catholic faith fit best with the Jesuit university, which tops his list of 12 schools. “It has a familiar set of rules,” he said.
It’s hard to predict where the young innovator will be in five years. There’s no course or detailed map to follow. Andrew is keeping his mind and his options open: “I’m on my own path.”
“My quote from eighth grade still applies,” Andrew says.
That is: “I am ready to face any challenges that might be foolish enough to face me.” — Dwight Schrute, The Office.