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Faculty Get Innovative To Step Up Fight Against Coronavirus

A student works on a ventilator adapter at a lab at Binghamton University.

New York State continues to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus, or COVID19, and SUNY is playing a big role in those efforts. Over the last few weeks, Governor Cuomo’s strong leadership has stressed the urgent need for more ventilators and talked about what the state could do to fill the need, including splitting machines between two patients and adapting other medical devices to help. Following the governor’s lead, Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger has called on his faculty and staff to use their resources, skills, and ingenuity to come up with strategies that would be of most help in this time of need.

And they are delivering in great ways, particularly with respect to the urgent need for more ventilators in anticipation of a surge in coronavirus patients in New York hospitals. Faculty at the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science are working on a variety of prototypes for ventilator adapters that would allow one ventilator to treat multiple patients. Including one that would potentially serve six patients.

Fuda Ning and Jia Deng, both assistant professors in the Department of Systems Science and Industrial Engineering, are working with Lourdes Hospital and UHS to design and 3D-print ventilator adapters that will allow more than one patient per machine if necessary. They are working on this project with Scott Schiffres, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Such innovation is a reflection of the university commitment to step up on several fronts to help regional healthcare providers deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Another development is occurring within the Department of Biomedical Engineering, led by Professor and Department Chair Kaiming Ye. There faculty members have completed a prototype of an N95-like mask using a 3M electrostatically charged filter that is capable of capturing viruses, and they also have a design for sterilizing N95 masks using ultraviolet light.

And Vince Brady, the Watson School’s manager of engineering laboratories and learning environments is leading a plan to produce full-face shields. Contributing to the prototype are Schiffres, Deng, Mark Poliks; director of the Center for Advanced Microelectronics Manufacturing, Benson Chan; associate director of the Integrated Electronics Engineering Center and others.

“I am proud that the Watson School faculty and staff are uniting to face these unprecedented challenges,” said Watson School Dean Krishnaswami “Hari” Srihari. “It is a pleasure and an honor to work with them.”

Big Ideas

Written by Big Ideas

Big Ideas is the Blog of The State University of New York, published by the Office of New Media.

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