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Physics Professors Michael Wood, PhD and Erden Ertorer, PhD, are joining a multi-university effort to develop an inexpensive ventilator to supplement a predicted shortage of the devices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the public has learned in recent weeks, a ventilator can be a lifesaving device for those hospitalized with the respiratory infection caused by the virus, and the cost to produce them can run upwards of thousands of dollars.

Researchers at the University of Florida Center for Safety, Simulation and Advanced Learning Technologies are working to develop a less expensive but still viable ventilator that can be used by healthcare providers.  The cost of the design is about $200 and consists of parts that can be purchased at Lowes or Home Depot.  The electronic controllers for the devices are made of common circuit elements and programmable micro-controllers called Arduino’s.

The Canisius Physics Department teaches programming of micro-controllers in its Basic Electronics course (PHY226) and introduces the Arduino’s in its Introduction to Engineering course (EGR111).  With their experience in these two areas, Wood and Ertorer have joined the effort to test the ventilators’ control software.

Others can too.

Christopher Bass, PhD, an associate professor of physics at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY, has put out a call for volunteers on the project through a list serve for instructors of Advanced Physics Lab courses.  Additionally, the University of Florida has made the project an open source and is sharing the design freely on its webpage.

Anyone interested in joining the project should visit this webpage for more information.

Submitted by: Michael Wood, PhD, chair and professor, Physics and Pre-Engineering