U-Delaware’s Design and Engineering Ingenuity with Jenni Buckley, PhD and Whitney Sample

Working in close collaboration at the University of Delaware’sDesign Studio, Co-Directors Whitney Sample &Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Jenni Buckley, PhDhave established a partnership based on mutual admirationand respect. While designers & engineers often bring different world views and personalities to their work which creates a level of tension, Jenni & Whitney can finish one another’s sentences and often do. 

Both of them have deep connections in the medical and healthcare fields. Virtually simultaneously, both were being inundated with requests from medical doctors who were very concerned about the lack of PPE as the pandemic began to escalate. These inquiries served as the catalyst for springing Whitney and Jenni into action. After doing their own research, they realized that many other projects were targeting N95 medical grade masks. 

They decided to focus on designing a mask that would serve the needs of essential frontline workers at grocery stores & pharmacies, food delivery, Amazon, UPS & FedEx drivers, and first responders. Whitney sought out inspiration from a number of existing populardesigns and then brought his 30 years of experience to bear to improve upon what is currently available. The end goal – a design that has a properlytight yet comfortable fit, where filters can be readily replaced, and which can be produced affordably at scale and easily stored in a convenient form factor – essentially flat-packed like a military ready -to-eat meals eg., “MRE “ The ingenious “HensNest” mask design – in honor of the U. of Delaware mascot the Blue Hens, is best appreciated when you look at the assembly video. It’s a tented structure that makes it far easier to breathe. It accommodates a range of recommended filters. Most importantly, it is scientifically proven to be 4-8X more effective than traditional cloth masks. The implication- many lives will be saved as a result of using his superior design as we re-open the US economy.

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