It started with a chance meeting in the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) cafeteria. A lead engineer ran into JPL’s chief of the engineering and science directorate in early March, and while discussing current events they wondered aloud if there was some way that JPL could contribute to the fight against the coronavirus. They sent out an email asking if anyone had ideas or would volunteer to help, and soon a whole team of engineers assembled. The result of that chance meeting is a prototype ventilator to aid breathing in critically ill COVID-19 patients, designed in just 37 days. The prototype has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meaning it can now be manufactured and start being sent out to help ease the chronic shortage of ventilators in U.S. hospitals. The journey has been an emotional one for the engineers involved, as Chris Yahnker, one of the first volunteers to join the project, told Digital Trends. “There are times when we were all shedding a tear,” he said. “There aren’t many times in your career when you can truly say, ‘I made a real difference.’” From space robots to medical ventilators Yahnker, the group supervisor for extreme environment… Read full this story
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