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Volume 8, Issue 11  |  February 7, 2023Subscribe

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After seeing the destruction of the Camp fire, local student developed early fire detection system…now he’s headed to Paris to educate the world

Ryan Honary was attending a tennis competition in Arizona when the Camp fire erupted in 2018. He noted the terrain on the news looked similar to what he saw at home in Newport Beach, so he called his mom to check in. Though he was relieved to find his family was safe, Honary was still upset by the devastation he saw, and that spurred him to action. 

He did some research and found that the systems that were commonly in practice did not provide early detection indicators and lacked processes for a timely response to a fire. For his fifth-grade science project, he began developing a wildfire detection system that, over time, grew to involve a network of solar-powered heat detectors that communicate wirelessly with a weather station that transmits data to a computer that then reports an analysis of the situation to a cellphone app he programmed. 

After seeing the destruction Honary

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Courtesy of NMUSD

Newport Harbor freshman Ryan Honary stands next to his invention to change the future of fire detection

Now a freshman at Newport Harbor High School, Honary will host a panel discussion and global showcase on “The Future of Artificial Intelligence-Driven Environmental Solutions” at this month’s Learning Planet Festival, an event created by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Learning Planet Institute in Paris, France. In addition to presenting his innovative system and representing his company, SensoRy AI, Honary will call on his fellow youth environmental activists to join a Climate Solutions Society with the goal of collectively exploring global conservation efforts. The newly formed nonprofit will assist members who are interested in meaningfully helping the planet find funding, explore technical solutions, etc. “I feel it’s my generation’s duty to help clean the planet up,” Honary said.   

Founded with help from his father and a grant from the Office of Naval Research as capital, SensoRy AI has allowed Honary the opportunity to work with local officials to protect lives and the environment. In late 2021, the Irvine Ranch Conservancy (IRC) invited him to bring his low-cost proprietary technology to its seed farm for real-world testing. That opportunity came with additional funding and a mentor in Dr. Nathan Gregory, IRC’s vice president and chief programs officer.    

In addition to Gregory, Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy and Fire Captain Jeff Shelton have joined the SensoRy AI board. 

“Presenting at a UNESCO youth conference is a prestigious opportunity, and I couldn’t be more excited for Ryan,” said NHHS Principal Sean Boulton.

Honary and his Early Wildfire Detection Network have accumulated many accolades, including the 2019 TCS Ignite Innovation Student Challenge’s $10,000 grand prize; a Naval Science Award in 2020 from the Office of Naval Research, which sponsors scientific efforts for the United States Navy and Marine Corps; a Red Cross Disaster Services Hero Award in 2020 and finalist honors in the 2020 Broadcom MASTERS competition. 

In addition to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities, Honary enjoys playing competitive tennis, teaching the sport to kids with special needs, surfing, shredding on his guitar and singing.

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