GMIT volunteers making ventilators and vital PPE

Galway Daily news GMIT volunteers churn out ventilators and vital PPE

Though teaching and much other college activity has come to a halt during the Covid-19 pandemic, staff at GMIT are still hard at work contributing to the fight against the virus by making vital equipment and PPE materials for health care workers.

Business, engineering, science and computing staff, together with researchers, in GMIT are building ventilators and producing face visors and shields for frontline staff.

All of this is being delivered to hospitals, pharmacies, GP surgeries and care settings across the west in the fight to stop the novel coronavirus pandemic.

With GMIT closed to students and staff since 12 March, many of the staff have been producing from their homes across the west and mid-west.

Still others are working from  GMIT’s Medical Engineering Technologies (MET) Gateway at the Dublin Road campus in Galway City.

Researchers are also collaborating with teams in colleges such as NUI Galway’s Lambe Institute and Medical School, and UL.

GMIT Covid-19 projects

  • Dr Patrick Delassus and Sharon White of the MET Gateway, are working with a team of five MET researchers to build face visors using an open source design and the Centre’s 3D printers. They have also lent Galway University Hospitals the centre’s respiratory ventilator, which is normally used to assist in medtech research and development.
  • Dr Brian de Souza, Dept of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, is leading a team producing face visors to supply GUH, pharmacies, GP surgeries and voluntary care settings. He made the first delivery to Galway University Hospital on Good Friday, and the team expect to be able to produce 20,000 visors a week with staff and student volunteers.
  • Brian O’Shea, Dept of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, is working with a team in NUIG’s Lambe Institute led by Dr Atif Shahzad, developing a split ventilator system that can treat two patients at once.
  • Dr Oliver Mulryan, James Boyle and Pat Cassidy, School of Engineering, are building a ‘last resort ventilator’ prototype. The low-cost ventilator takes over the breathing of patients who no longer have an autonomous lung function.

Other projects being undertaken at GMIT include a programme to help Leaving Cert Physics students carry on the practical curriculum remotely, research into overcoming difficulties with medical supply chains, and looking at ways to improve the turnaround on Covid-19 testing.

Dr Gerard MacMichael, Head of GMIT’s School of Engineering, expressed great pride in the response of GMIT staff.

“We have been very encouraged by the numbers of staff who have initiated COVID-19 related projects and those staff who have volunteered to get involved directly and indirectly with their support in the background.”

Dr Orla Flynn, President of GMIT, said that last week, over 80 GMIT staff volunteers were joined by HSE staff in the Contact Tracing Centre in the Dublin Road campus.

Volunteers are operating two shifts each day, seven days a week, with another centre expected to open at the Castlebar campus in Mayo shortly.