Students’ ‘cool suit’ to help workers cope with the heat
▶ Aryam Ahmed, 21, will present her invention to a group of international business leaders and investors
When engineering student Aryam Ahmed saw a construction worker pass out in the street from the heat, she decided she wanted to solve the problem.
The Emirati spent the next two years developing a suit that will keep outdoor workers cool, and is now set to pitch her concept to an audience of international business leaders and investors.
The 21-year-old was chosen as one of the winners of the [email protected] Palace initiative, a scheme designed to encourage Emirati entrepreneurship backed by UK royal Prince Andrew.
She hopes her invention will help more than one million outdoor workers in the UAE to stay more comfortable at work and at the same time increase productivity for businesses.
Armed with one prototype, she has already set her sights on an expansion across the GCC.
“It started when we saw a fainted worker on the street and we couldn’t do anything about it,” said Ms Ahmed, a Khalifa University student from Abu Dhabi.
“As engineers, it is our responsibility to find solutions to problems to help our society.
“I do not just want to show it in the UAE, I want other countries in the world to know about it. It is not only the UAE that needs this solution, it is the whole of the GCC. We want to create something that everyone can have.
“Employers have a responsibility for the health of the workers, so will want to reduce the risks and number of cases. I think they will be open to these solutions.”
The material she developed is low cost and highly effective in maintaining body temperature for up to four hours, Ms Ahmed said. She does not want to reveal precise details of how the material works, while its patent is pending.
However, she said it has performed well in tests and the suit also includes a smart system that monitors outside temperatures and a worker’s body temperature, sending an alert to the employee’s boss if it reaches 38 degrees. It also includes a “panic button” so a worker can summon help in an emergency.
While others have attempted to invent cooling suits for outdoor labourers before, they have often been designed with complicated fans or water-based cooling systems. Ms Ahmed, who developed the suit along with her project partner Latifa Al Seiari, believes the simplicity and safety of her design will mean it succeeds where others have failed.
While current laws mean companies have to allow outdoor workers long breaks during the hottest hours of the day, she said cases of heat-related illnesses remain a major problem.
She will present her idea at a [email protected] regional final next month in Bahrain. The winners of that round will win a place at a global final in London in December.
The event is supported by the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, which encourages Emirati entrepreneurship. It also helps young business people with mentorship from successful industry leaders and connects them with potential investors.
“It has been a great experience, we have talked with many advisers and investors,” Ms Ahmed said.
The other UAE winners at the [email protected] event were the creators of an Arabic language learning platform for children, an online tool to connect patients with doctors and pharmacies and a home design app.
“It is great to be able to showcase some of the great innovation that has been going on in the UAE,” Prince Andrew, who began the scheme in the UK before expanding it across the world, said at the event.
“This project is about collaboration to help these businesses grow.”
Latifa Al Seiari and Aryam Ahmed with the cooling suit they designed. The material for the suit is low cost