Igor Klymenko is enjoying his first year at the University of Alberta. He recently moved to Edmonton from war-torn Ukraine but his journey has been filled with ups and downs.
“When I was sheltering in the basement with my family, each day could be our last day, each morning we heard sounds of planes, of rockets and missiles flying in the sky just near our house,” Klymenko said.
Stuck in a bunker for weeks, surrounded by the horrors of war, Klymenko remembered a project he started years back. The Russian invasion inspired him to finish it.
“I started thinking about solutions for the military problems that had hard consequences but I wanted to save lives, not to take other’s lives,” Klymenko said.
He invented a drone that uses metal detectors to locate landmines and then transmits the coordinates to the user. So far he has two prototypes and is working on a third improved version.
His work has now been recognized internationally.
“The one word I thought about was persistence in the face of adversity,” said Marc Boxser, vice president of communications and policy for Chegg.
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Klymenko won the 2022 Chegg.org Global Student Prize, an honour that comes with a $100,000 prize.
“Igor was one of our 7,000 applications for nomination. They came from 150 countries,” Boxser said.
Klymenko accepted his award at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting during the UN General Assembly Week in New York, meeting former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
“I told about my story. I told him about the drones. it was an amazing experience,” Klymenko said.
From a bunker in Ukraine to a soaring list of accomplishments, Klymenko is hopeful his drone will save lives.
“I want to share this device with other countries who are suffering from this landmine problem because there are more than 60 countries suffering from landmines,” Klymenko said.
Klymenko adds that he plans to invest a large portion of his prize money into the development of his drones.