Ukrainian teenager named ‘global student of the year’ wins $100,000 for work on detecting landmines

·2-min read
Ivor Klymenko  (Handout)
Ivor Klymenko (Handout)

A 17 year old Ukrainian student has won a $100,000 global student prize for developing a drone that detects landmines.

Igor Klymenko was selected from more than 7,000 students to win the prestigious prize which was awarded in New York.

Igor, from Kyiv, moved to the countryside at the start of the Russian invasion to finish his final year of high school.

He completed his studies while sheltering in the basement of his home, while at the same time refining the mine-detecting drone he has been working on for eight years.

Since the start of the war Igor has also been conducting online maths and physics lessons for his peers.

He told the Evening Standard: “I plan to use most of the money to develop my device and help me raise the issue of landmines globally. I would also like to use some of it to help other Ukrainian students further their education.”

Igor’s Quadcopter Mines Detector, which has received two official patents from Ukraine, detects anti-personnel and anti-vehicle landmines and provides coordinates of their location within two centimetres. Because the device flies, it can spot mines without setting them off.

After completing school in Ukraine, Igor moved to Canada to study at the University of Alberta. His parents, sister, grandparents and many friends are still in Ukraine. He said: “After studying in Canada, I will return to Ukraine to help rebuild my country.”

The Global Student Prize is given to one exceptional student each year who has made a real impact on learning, the lives of their peers and on society beyond.

Igor was given the award at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting during UN General Assembly week in New York.

He said: “This whole experience has been amazing. I’m so grateful to and the Varkey Foundation for providing me this incredible platform. It has given me a real voice, enabled me to share my story, and given me a seat at the top table.

“I have spent the last few days at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York, where I met education leaders and talked about my project and the global landmine problem. I never imagined I would have this kind of opportunity, it’s really a dream come true. I would definitely encourage other students to apply for this unique chance to make our voices heard.”

Igor is now working on improving the drone by adding new technologies - spraying paint to mark the location of the mine, and using AI technology to identify the type of landmine and best course of action for safe removal.