The Enterprise Program at Michigan Technological University has a hot new project as the weather turns cooler—developing safer heating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Evidence suggests that transmission of the COVID-19 virus may increase as fresh air decreases, meaning indoor spaces with standard HVAC systems can be riskier than spaces with hospital-grade HVAC filtering. Classrooms, office spaces, and other venues around the world are trying to mitigate this with social distancing, masking protocols, and virtual gatherings. Michigan Tech’s Enterprise program—multidisciplinary student teams, led by faculty, that work on real-world projects for industry and government partners—will seek a more active solution.
The Consumer Product Manufacturing (CPM) Enterprise has been selected to helm the project. The CPM team has a long history of improving, upgrading, and troubleshooting existing consumer products.
“This is just the type of problem CPM likes to tackle because it is tailor-made for a multi-disciplinary Enterprise,” said Tony Rogers, faculty advisor for the team. “The shared air filtration project is appealing and interesting to our members, and a solution will benefit the public. I am looking forward to brainstorming with the CPM students—their diversity of training in various disciplines almost always leads to creative, and often unexpected, solutions.”
“CPM is all about giving our members real-world project experiences while being on Michigan Tech’s campus,” said Kelsey Farrell, chemical engineering student and vice president of the CPM Enterprise. “Creating an HVAC system to reduce the spread of the virus will be an incredible experience for our members as it allows them to make a personal impact in the fight against this pandemic. I am excited to see what our team can produce to keep our communities safe!”
A clear winner and some intriguing potential projects
The shared air filtration project received nearly a third of the votes out of seven projects proposed over the summer and voted on by Enterprise students, alumni, industry sponsors, and the greater Michigan Tech community. Virus-resistant materials came in second place, with 15 percent of the vote.
The most interesting part of the poll? Voter-submitted suggestions for additional Enterprise COVID-19 projects. Suggestions ranged from applying LEAN methodologies to Michigan Tech’s testing process, to voice-activated elevators, to waste minimization techniques which would reduce the long-term environmental impact of disposables. The Enterprise program is trying to find funding for at least one of these additional projects.
How to help
The CPM team is very excited to start pursuing this project, but the team still needs your financial support, says Chris Morgan, assistant director of educational partnerships for Enterprise. “The team currently has enough funding to start purchasing preliminary materials, but your continued donations will help them build a complete prototype, and perhaps even allow for full testing of the developed system.”
Donations can be made online, or you can contact Chris Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 906-487-2633.
Funding will go directly to the Enterprise program to support Enterprise’s response to COVID-19. Funding received beyond the cost of the safer HVAC project will be applied to additional student projects.
The Consumer Product Manufacturing Enterprise is very excited to work on the shared air filtration project! We are very excited to be able to provide new and innovative air filtration solutions that will benefit the community and also help combat the Covid-19 pandemic.