By Ishveena Singh
First Published Aug. 25th 2021
At first, Ignatius Asabor’s journey from Nigeria to Finland could sound like feel-good fiction. “You can’t imagine how happy I am,” he tells you with his trademark toothy grin. But dig deeper, and you realize it’s a story of ambition, hard work, and tenacity. It also serves as a case in point that social media can be a very powerful tool in landing your dream job.
Ignatius was born in 1999 in the Nigerian village of Utagba-Ogbe (Kwale). Last week, the 22-year-old engineer shifted base to Oulu, Finland. Filling the gap between the two coordinates are a curious mind, scrapyard robotics, and a ton of TikTok videos.
The story of Ignatius Asabor
“My interest in robotics started when I was 9 years old,” Ignatius tells DroneDJ. “First, I was building small cars from cardboard and other materials which I got from scrap yards and other similar places around me. But after a while, that started to seem like child’s play; it didn’t satisfy me anymore. I knew I wanted to build more ambitious projects and innovate something new. That’s when my interest shifted to drones, custom-made airplanes, and other robotics systems.”
Ignatius went on to get an auto engineering degree from the local Utagba-Ogbe Technical College. At the same time, to earn some pocket money, he started selling self-made drone parts and performing street drone flights for the public.
I started making videos about my drone projects in 2016 when I got my first smartphone. I posted some videos and photos on Facebook, along with short writeups about my projects.
Now, Facebook is where Ignatius was first spotted by his new Finland-based employer, Radai, a company specializing in drone-based environmental and geophysical measurement services. But the rest of the world woke up to Ignatius’s talent on TikTok and Instagram.
I created my Instagram account in 2017 but didn’t get much traction. But this year, I created my TikTok account, @ignatiusasabor0, and all of a sudden, my visibility and growth increased tremendously. I have more than 200,000 followers on TikTok now, and my Instagram following is also steadily increasing.
Meanwhile, the drone that caught Radai’s attention is a custom-made fixed-wing that can help local farmers with crop dusting and can also be helpful to firefighters. Ignatius built the first prototype for this drone in 2019.
I built several prototypes and I was improving the quality of the system step by step. After several crashes, I finally managed to build my first working custom-made crop duster RC model. Many people in other countries offered support for my project, including Radai. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any support from Nigeria. Radai is the first company to offer me a work contract.
Ignatius explains that he was contacted by the company’s managing director, Ari Saartenoja. “He had seen my innovations on my Facebook page, and he was impressed with my skills and persistence to develop and innovate new things.” After about a year of discussions and online meetings, Radai brought Ignatius onboard to begin his training.
But soon we realized that it was highly difficult to train online. The main issues were bad internet connection and annoying electricity outages. So, after a few months of training, we decided it’s better for me to come to Finland and start training here.
Back home in Nigeria, local media cannot stop gushing about Ignatius’s achievements, and the lad is understandably proud. “I’m very excited and happy. You couldn’t imagine it! It was like a dream to me, and now I’m living that dream here,” he signs off.
Written by Ishveena Singh. Ishveena Singh is a versatile journalist and writer with a passion for drones and location technologies. She has been named as one of the 50 Rising Stars of the geospatial industry for the year 2021 by Geospatial World magazine.