ME Students Take Up the Challenge of Fighting the Coronavirus

March 31, 2020

Dear Students, Alumni, and UofL Supporters:

Over the last four weeks, undergraduate and graduate students from the ME Department have stepped up to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.  Led by Mechanical Engineering MS student Kate Schneidau, a large number of students have volunteered their time to design, develop, fabricate (3-D print), sterilize, and ship protective masks and face shields for use by healthcare workers, who are on the front lines caring for patients.  These masks and shields are in short supply and critical to safeguard the health of these doctors, nurses, etc.  Production has increased to thousands per day, with plans for further increase the production rate.

In addition, six ME graduate students and one ECE student (Adam Carrithers, Sean Dobson, Saleh Khanjar, Andreas Montenegro, Chris Robinson, Kate Schneidau, and Kavish Sudan) taking ME 675, Polymer Additive Manufacturing agreed to scrap their original design project in favor of a new project to quickly design and test 3-D printed ventilators; these are respiratory devices that are required by many infected patients as they battle this deadly virus.  Like the masks and shields, these are in short supply among our hospitals.  In parallel to the design and testing phase, they are seeking the necessary FDA approval for the device.  Once complete, it is expected that mass fabrication will begin at FirstBuild, a maker-space that is located on the UofL campus and backed by Louisville’s GE Appliances, A Haier Corporation.

During all of this, the University has moved from our traditional course delivery system (i.e., face-to-face) to an entirely online course delivery.  So these students are volunteering their valuable time in addition to carrying a full course load, with a new online delivery format.  Their willingness to improvise and adapt is truly inspiring.

All of this work is being conducted at the Additive Manufacturing Institute of Science and Technology (AMIST) here at UofL.  Besides the students, there are a number of people at AMIST who have played a significant role in these efforts.  They include Ed Tackett, Tim Gornet, Gary Graf, Kunal Kate, Sundar Atre, Jerry Grant.

To put your minds at ease, AMIST is running with a very lean staff and is practicing social distancing and other sanitary/safety protocols specified by the CDC for the safety of the students, the staff, and their families.

Donations to the University of Louisville to help support these efforts are gratefully accepted. Donate now. And in the appropriate box, please be sure to specify that your donation should be directed to the Speed School AMIST Lab COVID-19 Projects.

I want to express my most sincere and heartfelt gratitude to these students, faculty and staff for taking the initiative and using their considerable technical expertise to address these problems when time is so critical.  They represent the best of our profession and their selflessness fills me with a pride that I cannot adequately express.

With best regards,
Kevin Murphy
Chairman, Mechanical Engineering

† The AMIST faculty and staff include:

  • Mr. Ed Tackett, Director of Workforce Development
  • Mr. Tim Gornet, Manager of AMIST Operations
  • Mr. Gary Graf, Coordinator of Tech. Services
  • Dr. Kunal Kate, Assistant Professor of ME
  • Dr. Sundar Atre, Director of AMIST and Endowed Professor of ME
  • Dr. Jerry Grant, Assoc. Director of AMIST and Professor of Dentistry

Mechanical engineers taking the lead against COVID-19