By Ian Joesbury, Chief Executive (volunteer) for the Exovent Charity and Fellow of the IMechE
"At the beginning of the Covid pandemic when everyone was desperate to find a way of delivering thousands of ventilators to support patients, a creative and enthusiastic group of engineers, medics and volunteers with a wide range of skills came together and within a few weeks of intensive activity created a negative pressure ventilator that could have been produced inexpensively and in very large numbers had the need ultimately arisen. As it happened, the worst fears of thousands more ventilators required did not materialise, but by this time the team had realised how important this technology was and had no intention of letting it go!
"Right from the start this has been a team and a family affair with everyone attending zoom calls on a daily basis, often with children or grandchildren popping their faces in front of the cameras to make sure everyone had seen them. We worked hard but had fun!
"Now, over 2 and a half years on, the team (all still giving their time for free) meet weekly and are working with innovation teams in the UK and around the world to turn this technology into reality. Portsmouth Aviation are doing an amazing job creating a system for approval in the UK and getting themselves certified as a medical device designer and manufacturer. The team in Bangladesh used local materials available from boat making to create a fibreglass version called ‘Shaash’, which you can find exhibited in the Smithsonian in New York, and are in the process of getting their system approved by their Ministry of Health. In Canada we are working with the University of British Columbia on a compact next generation wearable system that has tremendous potential, and, in the meantime, we have worked with some outstanding engineering students studying at Durham and an amazing all-female engineering cohort studying at Qatar University in Doha."
Read the full blog on the EngineeringUK website.