Canadian-American student in Dubai offers UAE workers masks that will help keep them cool
Dubai: Moved by the sight of construction workers facing gusts of dust and sand as they went about their arduous task on a hot August day, a Canadian-American teen in Dubai decided to make cool masks for them, literally.
Kyle Roberts, a grade 12 student at GEMS World Academy in Dubai, is developing a cooling and protective masks for construction workers in the UAE. Kyle’s project, ‘Cool Cheeks’, is a mask that would protect workers by filtering the air they breathe and keep them cool outdoors. It features two solar-powered fans on the sides of the mask that, Kyle said, would help reduce body heat and minimise risks of heat-related illnesses. The mask also has a replaceable dust filter to reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses, added Kyle, as well as built-in earplugs with rubber tips that can be removed, cleaned or replaced.
Backed by Expo 2020 Dubai
Having beaten competition from his school, Kyle, 17, was presented the opportunity to present his concept of this innovative mask at ‘Expo 2020 Young Innovators’ competition earlier this year. His idea was recognised for its innovation, scalability and all-round potential, which led to the Expo 2020 Dubai team helping Kyle produce a 3D-printed prototype of his mask, due to be displayed at Expo 2020 Dubai when it opens next year.
Since then, Kyle has teamed up with his grade 12 schoolmates Ali Imran and Melania Suchecka. The three friends make joint decisions and support each other, but each focuses on their own area of the “business”. Kyle is in charge of research and development; Melania, from Poland, focuses on marketing and consumer relationships; while Ali, from Pakistan, looks after finances. They have already developed several designs and are looking into sources of funding to drive the business forward. The team has undertaken research into the needs of UAE construction workers and construction companies.
Will companies buy the masks?
“Currently we’re in the design phase. We’ve got a few designs sketched out and we’ve made a 3D model [on the computer]. We’re looking into seeing a physical model 3D-printed at our school. We’re confident that construction companies are going to buy our products because the focus is on construction workers. The products will definitely help the construction workers’ comfort and efficiency by making sure they don’t get as hot or stuffy or possibly face heat-related illnesses, such as a heatstroke,” said Kyle.
“The support Ali, Mel and I have received as we transform the idea into a business, has been exceptional,” added Kyle, pointing to the guidance they received from their school, which has an Entrepreneurship Hub.
Next on Cool Cheeks’ to-do list is the production of further 3D-printed prototypes, additional market research and facial anthropometrics testing to ensure the mask has a snug fit.