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Northview High School senior Sulaiman Mustapha thinks he may have the answer to preventing head injuries in sports: Magnets.
The 16-year-old has been working on a helmet prototype for more than two years, and he thinks he is getting closer to a final product that that would use magnet technology to lessen the impact of a blow to the head.
Young Mustapha on Thursday held a helmet that could be used for multiple sports, including hockey, football, or cycling. It was lined inside with eight magnets. He pulled out the foam lining the interior, which also had eight magnets.
When lined up, the magnets create a repulsion. That little reduction in the amount of force slows the time it takes force to reach the foam structure, which in turn slows down impact, he explained.
His work is patent pending. In August he visited representatives of Easton-Bell Sports in California to discuss the product. His latest prototype uses the athletic manufacturer's helmet; he affixes various magnets to it and the expanded polypropylene foam interior. The foam is a high-grade engineering material used in the auto industry.
He has been testing the latest prototype using different magnets, and has plans to meet with Easton representatives in California in the next couple of weeks to discuss the latest results. Representatives of the company, which manufactures athletic safety gear, could not be reached for comment.
While contemplating which university he will attend next year, young Mustapha is already planning his next career step, creating his own company, through which to sell innovative products.
“My passion is to do what I can and do what I love — to help people. I’ll do whatever it takes,” he said, running down a long list of ideas he has for inventions.
“He has always been this ambitious. He always wants to do something to benefit mankind, and he always has a hundred things on his mind,” his mother, Sylvania resident Amal Abukaram, said.
The helmet idea came about because members of his family, including two brothers, had suffered concussions playing sports, Mrs. Abukaram said.
Sulaiman is one of six children. Mrs. Abukaram said his family, including his father, Azim Mustapha, supports his inventions and always waits for him to come up from his workshop in the basement and show his latest idea.