LA PAZ – Young Aymara Esteban Quispe, known as “the Bolivian robotics genius,” has been gaining international recognition but so far he has chosen to keep toiling at his humble workshop rather than accept a private university’s scholarship.
Quispe, 18, astounded the Andean country when he used parts collected from a garbage dump to build a Bolivian replica of the robot in the Wall-E movie, and he told EFE that he is now working on a dozen more devices.
The teen’s potential amid material deprivation at home in the Patacamaya town, 104 kilometers (65 miles) southeast of La Paz, earned him an invitation from the Inter-American Development Bank to travel to Washington to participate in the “Demand Solutions” event.
During the trip, tech giant Google invited Quispe to visit its headquarters in Mountain View, California, and he had been receiving job offers from a number of overseas companies, including one in Colombia.
But he says that his inspiration is rooted in the needs of the Andean farming community where he lives.
Quispe completed his high school studies in Patacamaya and, although he was invited by the San Pablo Bolivian Catholic University in La Paz to pursue studies in mechatronic engineering, he abandoned the institution of higher learning on personal grounds.
The teen is reluctant to talk about his decision to leave the university, where he attended classes for a while, emphasizing that his favorite place is his “laboratory,” a small room with walls of adobe and concrete, packed with metal barrels and cardboard boxes containing his tools, and where his stools are cut from tree trunks.
Quispe said that his “passion and innate ability” for robotics arose from necessity and that his dream is to help his Aymara community.
“There are many people who have knowledge, but few men have the intelligence to seek strategies which help their community, and I want to help my community,” he said.
Quispe’s first experiences with robotics derived from his parents’ lack of money to buy him a toy he wanted, a situation which led him, at 12 years of age, to start manufacturing his own toys and other devices.