News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. June 3, 2020: As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the world, engineers are among some of the most important professionals fighting the disease and coming up with new ways to stop the spread and help during this global crisis. Manufacturers have found themselves in a race against time to build new ventilators in order to cope with the predicted surge of coronavirus patients, and engineering companies across the spectrum have offered their services, with work underway to build thousands of additional devices. But what else can engineers do to help with the situation that we have all found ourselves in?
Prevent the Spread
First and foremost, preventing the spread of COVID-19 should be something that everything is working for, not only engineers. With numbers of patients on the rise around the globe and a second wave expected in the USA and the UK in the foreseeable future, stopping the spread of this disease is an immediate concern and of course, everybody should follow social distancing guidelines and other temporary rules.
For engineering companies, designing, developing, and manufacturing more diagnostic testing kits and refining logistics to dispense them quicker, is one way that the industry can help with the COVID-19 situation. Cutting-edge engineering techniques to help diagnose and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus could include:
- Creating and installing intelligent body temperature sensors for public places like supermarkets, airports, and schools
- Creating cleaning solutions and materials with inbuilt antibacterial properties
- Improving personal protective wear for both healthcare workers and the wider public when needed
As the healthcare industry comes under increasing strain due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, more hospital spaces have inevitably been required. Following similar measures in China when the outbreak first began, some have suggested that engineers could play a key role by helping to build new hospitals by designing and manufacturing buildings offsite that can be erected quickly as and when needed. In the UK, engineers have been hard at work turning stadiums and conference centers into temporary ‘NHS Nightingale’ hospitals, designed and set up to deal with a surge of COVID-19 patients.
Some other ways in which engineers can support and help the healthcare industry include:
- Improving personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals on the front line of the pandemic
- Atmosphere control, filtering and decontamination solutions like UV decontamination units
- Preparing for an increased demand for injection needles and syringes due to the multiple ongoing efforts to develop a vaccine, which is expected at some time next year
Support STEM Education
While the spread of COVID-19 has led to schools around the world temporarily closed and students spending their time learning from home, this has also presented a great opportunity for engineers to educate and inspire young people and encourage a future generation of engineering.
Engineers might help support education in STEM subjects during this crisis in order to:
- Take the ongoing pressure off of teachers and parents during the crisis
- Provide real-world examples of engineering in action to students in order to inspire them
- Provide students with something to learn that is fun and engaging virtually
You can provide learning experiences and inspiration to students now, and showing children, teenagers and young adults the impact that they might be able to have on the world in the future by pursuing a degree in engineering from Kettering University Online. You can direct them to the university website where they can learn more about careers such as engineering management, the ethical side of the job, and more about what it involves.
Strengthen the Industry
With COVID-19 putting a stop to travel and trade as we know it, engineers on US soil can do a lot to strengthen the national industry. For many, the crisis has provided somewhat of a wake-up call surrounding the over-reliance on foreign imports and has led many citizens to promise to buy more goods manufactured nationally rather than overseas and support local, US businesses.
Prevent Future Outbreaks
There’s a lot that everybody can learn from the mistakes made at the beginning of the outbreak and indeed as the disease continued to take hold across the world. While it may be too late now to stop COVID-19 from spreading across the globe, engineers can definitely work to help prevent similar outbreaks in the future and come up with technologies and methods of stopping them in their tracks before they get to the same scale as COVID-19 currently has.
Engineers can use their skills, knowledge, and ingenuity to both prevent the problem of COVID-19 from worsening and helping the country and the world be more prepared for dealing with any future outbreaks of similar diseases, which are to be expected.
For example, engineers could:
- Carry out a full assessment of medical equipment that might be necessary for similar situations and ensure that designs can be open-sourced, sharing information with manufacturers wherever needed.
- As an industry, engineering should carry out a detailed assessment of any international activity, in order to determine how it might have contributed to the spread of the novel coronavirus and ensure that a repeat can be avoided.
What Engineering Companies Have Done So Far
With an increased demand for PPE, life-saving medical equipment, and temporary hospitals, many engineering companies have already begun to offer their help in order to ensure that these critical supplies are available to those who need them during the COVID-19 crisis. Airbus and Dyson are amongst the companies that have been creating thousands of ventilators in order to help the healthcare industry in the western world fight the novel coronavirus, with many more companies across the world following suit.
At home in the US, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has partnered with an Italian engineering design company to create pre-fabricated, temporary ICUs from shipping containers, in order to ensure that the rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 cases can be sufficiently dealt with. They can be joined together to create mobile field hospitals with ease while boasting the same infection containment properties as a hospital.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly had an effect on every industry, and the field of engineering has been one of the most necessary non-healthcare fields in the crisis response.