On March 24, 2020, the Mechatronics, Controls, and Robotics Lab (MCRL) was approached by a member of the Tandon Board to explore creative solutions to address the looming ventilator shortages due to COVID-19. To this end, the MCRL was challenged to investigate the potential use of CPAP and BiPAP machines, devices commonly used for sleep apnea. This initial exchange was followed by a sequence of communications and meetings with the Managing Director of the NYU Tandon Future Labs and the Manager of the ProtoShop. A key challenge in using these machines is that they cause the virus to become aerosolized, posing significant risk of infection to healthcare workers. The ProtoShop Manager demonstrated that a home-brewed, negative pressure hood would be able to address this problem. To meet the rapidly developing demand for ventilators in NYC and beyond, a creative solution was needed for the hood that would not require the development of new manufacturing facilities or supply chains.
To address the aforementioned challenges, the MCRL reached out to industry contacts and alumni to assemble a geographically distributed volunteer team using electronic communication tools. This quickly formalized into the MCRL COVID-19 Engineering & Design Task Force, who have worked daily to produce solutions using CPAP and BiPAP machines and a negative pressure hood. Some basic documentation and how-to-videos are available below that can be used by interested parties – we recommend that anyone using these devices perform necessary clinical tests or obtain guidance from clinicians. As of this writing, we are still in the process of performing and validating clinical tests.