The University of Johannesburg has formed a multi partnership with the Mahlale Innovation Consortium to launch a ventilator design competition for South African students.
The Mahlale Innovation Consortium (MIC), an alliance of five higher education institutions, was formed in response to a request from merSETA to promote local manufacturing of ventilators to contribute to the National Ventilator Project.
This follows concerns about worldwide ventilator shortages, medical device development and sufficient maintenance skills, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, have led to multiple projects at major academic institutions that seek to find alternative means for emergency ventilation.
Therefore, with the ventilator design competition student designers and engineers are challenged to go beyond the classroom or laboratory and showcase their technical and commercial abilities by demonstrating new and creative ways digital manufacturing can add value.
The competition will take the shape of an eight-week hackathon hosted on MIC to design a rapidly deployable, minimum viable mechanical ventilator for patients with Covid-19-related ventilator-dependent lung injury.
Some of the universities included in this competition collaboration are the University of Johannesburg (UJ), Tshwane University of Technology, Central University of Technology, Vaal University of Technology and North-West University.
This particular competition is open for all scholars and students studying in South Africa with an active, registered student number and a possibility of seeing their designs into prototypes for testing.
Technology manager at UJ’s Process, Energy, Environment and Technology Station and project chair at the MIC Nickey Janse van Rensburg said: “The engineering profession won’t be exempt from Covid-19 job fallout, but the effects will be temporary. More engineers will be needed than ever before when the world turns to a semblance of normalcy.
“Proposals must address collateral issues to find a rapid ventilator production system to support field hospitals that are still requiring critical infrastructure such as pressurised oxygen.”
Competition design entries will be evaluated by judges who will assess safety, reliability, and manufacturability, while minimising cost and complex software and electronics.
One of the competition judges, Professor Leenta Grobler, said: “The challenge enables participants to gain real industry experience, practical employability skills and enhanced business and people skills, all within a set time frame. All of the best ideas seem impossible at first, but in this new age could change the world.”
The competition closes on June 14, 2021. The winner of each category will be awarded a cash voucher. In addition, one of the winners stands a chance to win a 3D printer sponsored by 3D Printing Systems SA. Some of the winning solutions could receive follow-on contracts if the prototype is selected for production and deployment.
Competition themes are:
– Open Category: for all scholars and students studying in South Africa with an active, registered student number. Enter any service or product that you have implemented to flatten the curve during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
– Innovation Category: enter any new business idea, invention, innovation that can be used to combat Covid-19 or other health related threats in the future.
– Engineering Category: enter any improvements, innovations or concepts that will reduce the shortage of ventilators in South Africa.