Giving Compass' Take:

• Engineers are shifting their work to focus on utilizing technology to solve challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

• How can donors support their research? 

• Learn about this toolkit and guidance for donors to respond to coronavirus. 

“I’m glad I’m an engineer right now,” says Joyce Wong, professor of biomedical and materials science engineering at Boston University’s School of Engineering. “There are so many problems that need to be solved in this crisis and I can actually use my expertise to help.”

Wong, like many other engineers and researchers, is diving in to do what she can to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic. These efforts are in addition to the first wave of help that gathered personal protective equipment (PPE) from labs—shuttered by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s stay-at-home advisory—to donate to healthcare workers.

Here are four ways that engineers are using technology to tackle the coronavirus pandemic:

  1. A "box" and a bracket: Wong is now collaborating with engineers Enrique Gutierrez Wing and J. Gregory McDaniel on medical equipment designed to help contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for causing COVID-19 infections.
  2. A new, faster COVID-19 test:  Researchers are working to develop a rapid and reliable test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The currently available tests look for the presence of SARS-CoV-2’s viral RNA, a unique and identifying genetic code. Building on previous research, the new test is fundamentally different: it detects and counts individual SARS-CoV-2 viruses by capturing them with antibodies.
  3. Faster test validation: The Precision Diagnostics Center is taking on the task of preclinical lab validation of newly developed COVID-19 tests. First up, they’re working with one developed by Michael Springer’s systems biology group at Harvard Medical School.
  4. Better nasal swabs: Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nationwide supply of nasal swabs used to collect patient samples are also at risk of running out. Engineers Mark Grinstaff, Sheila Russo, and Anna Thornton have teamed up to identify new viable materials that would enable highly effective nasal swabs to be fabricated via 3D printing.

Read the full article about engineers using tech to tackle COVID-19 by Kat McAlpine at Futurity.