GMIT producing vital equipment and PPE materials in race to stop COVID-19
Academics collaborating on COVID-19 research projects with NUIG and UL
GMIT staff are working all out producing and delivering vital equipment and PPE materials for health care workers in hospitals, pharmacies, GP surgeries and care settings across the west, in the race to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Business, engineering, science and computing staff, together with researchers in GMIT’s Medical Engineering Technology (MET) Gateway, are building ventilators (special purpose) and producing face visors and shields while researchers are collaborating with teams in colleges such as NUI Galway’s Lambe Institute and Medical School, and UL.
With GMIT closed to students and staff since 12 March, many of the staff have been producing from their homes across the west and mid-west while others are working from GMIT’s Medical Engineering Technologies (MET) Gateway at the Dublin Road (Galway city) campus.
Details of the GMIT’s COVID-19 projects are:
• Dr Patrick Delassus, MET Gateway Principal Investigator and Dept of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, and Sharon White, Manager of the MET Gateway, are working with a team of five MET researchers to build face visors using an open source design and the Centre's 3D printers. Galway University Hospital (GUH) clinicians assisted in the evaluation process. GMIT’s MET Gateway has also lent Galway University Hospital its respiratory ventilator to assist in the treatment of COVID-19 infected patients. The ventilator is normally used in MedTech research and product development.
• Dr Brian de Souza, Dept of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, is leading a team producing face visors (GMIT Project Visor) supplying GUH, pharmacies, GP surgeries and voluntary care settings. Brian built a computational fluid dynamics model demonstrating how effective the visor is when used in conjunction with a face mask. Assistance was provided by UL School of Medicine clinicians. He made the first delivery to Galway University Hospital on Good Friday (10 April). The team anticipates having the capacity to expand to over 20,000 shields per week as required using staff and student volunteers. The team includes lecturers Eddie Dunbar, David McDonnell, Dr Alan Hannon, Gabriel Costello and Dr Carine Gachon, Head of Dept.
• Brian O'Shea, Dept of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, is working with a team in the NUI Galway Lambe Institute, School of Medicine, led by Dr Atif Shahzad. They are developing a split ventilator for use on two COVID-19 patients at once. Brian is helping develop cross platform software that works with novel sensors to monitor the ventilator performance.
• Dr Oliver Mulryan, James Boyle and Pat Cassidy, School of Engineering, are building a 'last resort ventilator' prototype. The low-cost ventilator takes over the breathing of patients who no longer have an autonomous lung function.
• Mossy Kelly, Dept of Computing and Applied Physics, led an application to the SFI-coordinated COVID-19 research call. The proposal is to develop an app to assist Leaving Cert Physics students in navigating their practical curriculum whilst working remotely.
• Prof. Graham Heaslip, School of Business, submitted a proposal to the SFI-coordinated COVID-19 research call entitled: Overcoming medical supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19.
• Dr Luca Mirimin, Dept of Natural Sciences, has also applied to the SFI-coordinated COVID-19 research call, submitting a proposal for Development of high‐throughput diagnostic protocols to scale up SARS‐CoV‐2 monitoring. The proposal focuses on the urgent need for quick turn-around times for testing and screening.
GMIT’s entire inventory of 3D printers - 11 printers in total, from the Centre for Creative Arts and Media, Letterfrack campus and Dept of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, has been entered in the NUIG Ventilator 3D printer support platform for use by ventilator and other Medtech device manufacturers.
Dr Orla Flynn, President of GMIT, says: “Last week, over 80 GMIT staff volunteers were joined by HSE staff in the Contact Tracing Centre in the Dublin Road campus, recently established in partnership with the HSE. Volunteers are operating two shifts each day, seven days a week. Over 25 staff at the Mayo campus have completed training and the centre there (Castlebar) is expected to open shortly. The centres are managed by Dr Seamus Lennon, GMIT Registrar (Acting) in partnership with the HSE’s Brian Murphy, Assistant National Director, Strategic Planning”.
Dr Gerard MacMichael, Head of GMIT’s School of Engineering, expressed great pride in the response of GMIT staff: “We have been very encouraged by the numbers of staff who have initiated COVID-19 related projects and those staff who have volunteered to get involved directly and indirectly with their support in the background. We are immensely proud of their enthusiasm and energy.”
These sentiments were echoed by Dr Rick Officer, GMIT Vice President for Research and Innovation. “The great response of GMIT staff to the COVID-19 emergency has shown fabulous breadth and depth. Staff working directly on COVID-19 projects have tremendous support from GMIT colleagues in our administrative, technical, and building services teams”.
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