Georgia Tech’s Inventive Responses to PPE Shortage with Chris Saldana, PhD

Georgia Tech’s Inventive Responses to PPE Shortage with Chris Saldana, PhD

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The Georgia Institute of Technology is a Top 5 ranked national public research university.

More commonly known as Georgia Tech, the school has long been considered one of the US’s premier Institutes of Higher Education focused on educating the next generation of engineers, designers and scientists.

Given its stature, it is only natural that GT has taken on major leadership role in response to COVID19. “The Georgia Tech Community Response to COVID19” has been comprehensive.

In this episode, we focus on the dedicated efforts of Chris Saldana, Associate Professor of Manufacturing Engineering, where under his leadership, a wide range of high impact rapid design and prototyping projects are being led. Given the strong sense of urgency, the team is focused on maturing and optimizing readily available “open designs” and tailoring for local needs as required. Chris describes how he and his colleagues and student volunteers have broken down the silos across GT’s six colleges and  thirty + separate departments to make things happen. He also shares the collaborative, give-and -take nature of working with medical experts  who have been very vocal about their exacting requirements to ensure the designs and the equipment they create is able to protect our front line health care workers.

The team is has worked with its’ key clinical partner Emory University Hospital, and its manufacturing partner Siemens, to rapidly ramp up to produce hundreds of thousands of critically needed facial shields per week. These are being consumed rapidly at many area hospitals and the plan is to achieve volumes of 1 Million plus as needed

Video of injection molding face shields

The team’s efforts on this project were recently highlighted in the New York Times

The team has also produced “intubation boxes” which are used to protect both patient and health care worker when intubation or extubation, both very high risk medical procedures, are performed.  These will be used at area hospitals.

In addition, the team has created a low-cost, highly affordable ventilator that can be distributed to emerging economies of Africa, India and Southeast Asia where extreme affordability is critical. The cost to manufacture these vitally important medical devices is approximately $200 per device.

Lastly, students David Gamero and Zoe Klesmith, working under Chris’ direction, has been inspired by an ingenious South Korean patient testing booth design:

They are creating a design similar to this design derivative that was made for use at Boston’s prestigious Brigham + Women’s Hospital.

Every single one of GT’s designs highlighted in this podcast are being made freely available for use by anyone who wants to make use of them. See the yellow “contact us” bar at the bottom of the page. for more information.

While our front-line health care workers are certainly heroes, let’s not forget to celebrate the heroic efforts of engineers like Chris Saldana and his dedicated colleagues and students, in providing critical equipment in the fight against COVID19. It’s tireless and selfless efforts like this that show American innovation, engineering, manufacturing at its best. Well done Georgia Tech!

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