With the recently released seventh episode of the Star Wars saga, George Lucas’ sci-fi phenomenon has been everywhere. People are donning shirts featuring the likes of Darth Vader and Yoda, and profile pictures with Kylo Ren’s infamous crossguard lightsaber have been popping up around social media. Capitalizing on this sudden hype, Angelo S. Casimiro, a first year student from the University’s very own College of Science, decided to take the craze one step further. Putting his creativity and workmanship to the test, Angelo decided to make a life-sized and fully functioning replica of the featured droid in the film: BB-8.
This is the droid you’re looking for
“I wasn’t a Star Wars fan—not like my dad, and not until I watched the most recent one,” Angelo admits. When asked what inspired him to take on this project, his answer was simple: it had yet to be done. “I saw it as an opportunity to be the first to make a working life-sized model,” he reasons.
Unfortunately, while still in the process of making his BB-8, other people had already uploaded videos featuring their finished builds. As a result, Angelo said, “I had to make mine unique, so I used and recycled junk materials instead of buying readymade robotic parts.” This, above anything else, is what made his droid a cut above the rest, and his final costs amounted to less than half the price of the Sphero BB-8 droid currently on the market.
This move garnered him recognition from just about all platforms of media. The Philippine STAR claimed his skills in the field of robotics “displayed shades of a young Anakin Skywalker”, while TheVerge.com, a web site whose reach goes beyond our country, hailed him a “17-year-old engineering prodigy”.
The overall process, however, was a challenge in and of itself. Finding recycled materials to substitute the parts he needed was no easy feat—a prime example being the droid’s spherical body. “I had to improvise and make it out of paper mache,” Angelo recalls. He adds, “I also improvised on the ball bearings, the head, the magnetic mechanism, [and so on].” Despite this, he claims his BB-8 was one of his favorite projects yet. “I really got to spend some quality time with my family while building it,” he shares.
Inventor by day, YouTuber by night
In addition to his projects, Angelo maintains a YouTube channel where he posts tutorials on how to make things. So far, he has videos about pocket-sized cotton candy machines, water-powered flashlights, basically anything and everything he sets his mind to. “YouTube acts as my main source of funds. I use the revenue that my videos earn to make my next projects, upgrade my gear, and step up the production after each tutorial,” he explains.
Before his recent BB-8 tutorial, however, Angelo’s Youtube channel took an almost six-month hiatus, with his last video before it coming out nearly two weeks before this school year even began. Like any other college student, he shares how he was busy with school—an incoming freshman at the time, Angelo must have still been adjusting to life in Taft. Despite these ongoing adjustments, however, the work continues. Since the BB-8 tutorial, he has already posted a new video on how to make a Bluetooth speaker from scratch, and commits to posting tutorials more frequently.
With his YouTube channel officially having reached 100,000 subscribers last month, Angelo’s hard work seems to be paying off in dividends. “It feels great seeing how much I’ve grown,” he shares. He recalls, with a little bit of both awe and surprise, “I remember how I filmed my first tutorial with just my phone’s camera. I remember how big of a deal it was for me when I reached 10,000 followers. I just really didn’t expect that I would get this far.” He is humble in his accomplishments, attributing his success to the support of his friends and family. The next step? A million followers, which may not be such a huge leap for this young Anakin Skywalker.
Whether it be designing new tech, or making tutorials for other aspiring builders, Angelo’s trajectory can only go up from here. He discloses that he has readied himself with a list of upcoming projects to work on, and plans to keep busy. At 17, he’s just scratching the surface of his career, and while he’s still working on his degree as a Physics major, he has every opportunity to expand his list of achievements. With continued practice and dedication, he hopes to reach far beyond his current success—maybe even until galaxies far, far away.