Interview with the Winners of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health Climate and Health Champion Award


As of this year, ACP’s hydrohat group was declared the winner of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health Climate and Health Champion Award. The group worked on a project developing a Hydrothermal-Hat with sensors to monitor vital signs that will play a role in helping to reduce heat illnesses in Maricopa County. The team will be recognized on December 9th at their Annual Bridging Climate Health and Public Health Meeting. Congratulations to these students for their hard work and dedication: Sohani Sandhu, Abraham Troop, Kaitlyn Lai, Omina Nematova, Diya Nath, Ivan-Alexander Kroumov, Jacob Kaufman Warner, Nealin Banerjee, and Daniel Wu.

In March 2019, the team applied for a LMIT grant and got an EXCITE Award from MIT but not the grant for the 10k. However, this is still a very big achievement. In November, they were invited to the Climate Conference due to their clever and inventive idea. In February 2020, the team won a 50k grant from HUE (Healthy Urban Environments) for their achievements and even earned the Intel 40 for 40 grant. The Intel 40 for 40 allows groups across the state to fund initiatives concentrated on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

Recently, they patented their idea, and the patent is pending right now. The group established their Sensehydro LLC to develop a method of preventing heat related illnesses. They are now working with the ASU School of Sustainability and Maricopa County to bring the commercial product out. A couple days ago, the students were in a podcast for “Business Infrastructure” to talk about their project and achievements, and the episode will be released on December 20th. They won the Champions Award also, and they are planning on doing even more! I had the honor of speaking some of the students who were involved in this project.

Q: How did the group come up with this hydro hat idea?

A: We came up with the Hydro Hat idea after discussing how we can help protect Arizonans from the constant heat. We initially focused on preventing dehydration then moved on to preventing heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke or heat stress. A wearable device that records someone’s vitals and can be used to predict when someone is vulnerable to heat stroke seemed to be the most effective device.

Q: What is your favorite thing about Mrs. Nath? How did she contribute to the project?

A: Our favorite thing about Mrs. Nath is that she is always pushing us to reach for higher and higher goals. She never gave up on us or our idea and helped our group get to where we are now by getting us connected with doctors, engineers, and entrepreneurs.

Q: What is your favorite achievement out of all the ones that the group earned for the invention?

A: Even though we did not get the $10,000 Lemelson-MIT grant, we continued to pursue our project. Our favorite achievement was winning the $50,000 HUE grant from the Ann Wrigley Foundation at ASU. All our hard work paid off and we are excited to use the grant money to develop and test the Hydro Hat. 

Q: What is your favorite experience from this project?

A: Our favorite experiences from this project are the times we presented to community leaders and received their encouragement and constructive feedback on how to move forward. These community leaders included the City of Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke, the Chandler Chamber of Commerce, and Dr. Jeff LaBelle.

Q: Can you explain the hydro hat idea?

A: The Hydro Hat is a wearable heat illness prevention device. It constantly monitors the user’s temperature, pulse, and acceleration to warn them if they are at risk of heat stress or heat stroke. If the hat’s devices detect symptoms of heat stress such as a sudden rise in temperature with a fast pulse, then the user will be notified through a phone app.

Congratulations to all the students on this team for their hard work and perseverance! Go Knights!