Rice University Engineers develop $300 ventilator, preparing to test on COVID-19 patient

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RICE UNIVERSITY – As we continue to combat the coronavirus one weapon that has been difficult to get a hold of is a ventilator. Rice University engineers have come up with a solution, a low-cost ventilator.

A team of six has been working tirelessly inside of the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen at Rice University.

“We’ve designed a solution that helps bridge the gap between having a ventilator and having nothing,” said Danny Blacker, Engineering Design Supervisor at Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen. “With the ventilator shortage we found that the VPMs will probably be the best solution for helping keep a patient alive in those interim times.”

The ventilator, nicknamed ApolloBVM, was already in the works as part of a senior design project last year.

“When the coronavirus hit, we were getting a lot of requests for this device. And we realized to safely put out the plans and share the device with others it needed a redesign. And that’s when we put the team together at the Design Kitchen to redesign it,” said Amy Kavalewitz, Executive Director of Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen.

Working round the clock, they were able to revamp the prototype in about a week. They used supplies found on Amazon and hobby shops and created everything else using 3-d printers. The total cost to make the ventilator is about $300.

The team has been working closely with physicians and hopes to test the ventilator on a COVID-19 patient in the next few days. Once approved it’s “go time”.

“We’re working with a big manufacturer here in Houston to help crank them out faster so we can get them into hospitals quicker,” said Kavalewitz.

The team also hopes to share its blueprints on how to build the ventilator.

“We’ve gone through all of the hard work of actually making the device. What we need people to do, once this is out, is to come together and we need to start building these things,” said Blacker.


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