By: Ryan Malone
Original Article found Here
April 3, 2020
// COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING
Photo courtesy of Lucy Jung, Cambridge Judge Business School
As a global community, we are experiencing unprecedented change on what seems like a daily basis. Here in the College of Engineering, we are committed our educational and research mission. At the same time, many of us also have, as they say, dropped everything and devoted our expertise to help our state, country and world combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some examples of this work.
When UW-Madison announced plans on March 11 to shift to alternate delivery of courses—initially temporarily, then through the end of the spring 2020 semester due to the global coronavirus pandemic—College of Engineering faculty had their own homework: converting all their in-person classes to an online format without substantially sacrificing the quality of education. And they had less than two weeks to do it. In the run-up to the return of classes on March 23, faculty and staff across the college worked feverishly to shift more than 1,000 courses, lab sections, independent studies and seminars to online formats.
Read more about how our faculty have transitioned to teaching and supporting students online.
A University of Wisconsin–Madison industrial engineer has led the development of models that are among the tools aiding health officials in Dane County and south-central Wisconsin as they prepare for and respond to COVID-19. Oguzhan Alagoz, a professor of industrial and systems engineering at UW-Madison and an expert in infectious disease modeling, has worked closely with colleagues in the School of Medicine and Public Health and at UW Health to develop and refine them. He has also shared his efforts with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The models use a swath of relevant, research-based parameters to predict the number of cases of COVID-19 in the region.
Read more about how these models were developed through collaboration.
The best-laid plans of many parents are falling apart after weeks of keeping their kids home during the COVID-19 pandemic—and for many families, Netflix binges and video games are replacing any attempts at home schooling. But University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers have developed a few more options for productive screen time. In recent years, they have collaborated with UW-Madison’s Field Day Lab to create educational—but most importantly, fun—games aimed at middle and high schoolers. Over the last four years, the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) at UW-Madison, a National Science Foundation-funded center that supports materials science research and promotes education and public engagement, has created three games focused on materials science.
Read more about the educational video games.
As COVID-19 cases surge across the United States, medical workers have scrambled to find ways to fill critical gaps in the nation’s personal protective equipment supply—in part because single-use PPE such as gowns and N95 masks are being discarded by the millions. Andrea Hicks, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, is studying how reusable PPE might help fill critical shortages. The National Science Foundation is funding her research with a one-year, $78,394 Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grant.
Read more about this research project.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the United States and the world, many are putting their hope in science to bring an end to the virus, or at least make it manageable. But it’s not just virologists and epidemiologists who will find the way forward. Researchers from all sorts of disciplines are pivoting their research to help out with the pandemic. One is John Yin, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at UW-Madison, who uses experimental and computational methods to understand how viruses spread. Yin is working on several projects that could have a direct bearing on COVID-19, and says he’s ramping up work on them to help combat the virus.
Read more about how his research projects could help respond to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Hospitals around the world are scrambling to secure enough personal protective equipment to safeguard their workers while treating the approaching wave of coronavirus patients. Manufacturers large and small are retooling their production lines to try to fill the gap. But that still leaves a huge logistical challenge: matching up the right suppliers with the right buyers. UW-Madison engineers have created an automated online platform to optimize and then facilitate those connections. The project is an outgrowth of the university-industry collaboration that created the Badger Shield, the open-source design for medical face shields that’s now being used by manufacturers around the country, including Ford. Organizations ranging from healthcare facilities to the U.S. Postal Service, fire departments, homeless shelters, nursing homes and more have requested millions of face shields using the online form.
Read more about this effort and how your organization can find the face shields it needs.
For Tyler Vermey, a crazy cross-country trip that included the aftermath of an earthquake and a raging blizzard was just the beginning of his role in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Until March 15, he and his wife had been keeping an eye on the pandemic from their home in Utah. “Like anyone else, we were just monitoring the outbreak and taking precautions,” Vermey says. “Then I got a call asking me to come back to Madison to help with making flow control valves for ventilators.”
Read more about Vermey’s journey from Utah to Madison and how he still draws on his engineering education today.
As our world faces massive shortages of N95 masks, there is growing concern for the safety of healthcare workers who rely on these specialized masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to treat COVID-19 patients. Now, new research in an unusual area—internal combustion engines—at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is aiding in the development of alternative N95 masks in response to this urgent need. Dave Rothamer, a mechanical engineering professor and a leading expert in internal combustion engines, is leveraging the tools he uses to measure the particulate matter emitted from combustion engines for a new purpose: He has converted the instruments so that he can measure the filtration efficiency of different candidate materials for face masks.
Read more about what he’s doing and how it works.
University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers are working with Madison-area manufacturers, the design consulting firm Delve, and campus colleagues on a product to help meet urgent and growing demand for medical face shields—which are key pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers treating coronavirus patients. The team has built prototypes and launched a website where it’s encouraging healthcare facilities, manufacturers and donors to fill out an intake form to help assess need and build more connections while production capacity is rapidly expanded.
Read more about the effort and explore how you can get involved.