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Emiratis and expats work together to find solutions to beat Covid-19 pandemic

Ashwani Kumar /Abu Dhabi
ashwani@khaleejtimes.com Filed on June 19, 2020
Abu Dhabi, Covid-19 pandemic, Emiratis

A bunch of vibrant youngsters from eight research centres are developing innovative solutions to empower the UAE.

Unprecedented times require extraordinary actions and solutions. And since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, this is exactly what is happening at Makerspace - a tech shop nestled in Al Raha, some 45km away from Abu Dhabi City.

A bunch of vibrant youngsters with an unusual mix of Emiratis and expatriates from eight research centres are developing innovative solutions to empower the UAE and the world response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The multicultural minds balance their day jobs and studies to steer on Citizen Science - a research organisation formed as part of Technology Innovation Institute (TII) - to produce cost-effective vital medical equipment for frontline workers. It was their common aim and purpose that bought these scientists, doctors, engineers and researchers from diverse fields together.

Dr Chaouki Kasmi, executive director, Directed Energy Research Centre, TII, said 10 Emiratis and 10 expatriates, working in batches and some at times remotely from places like Dubai, Sharjah and Al Ruwais, gave shape to various projects, including ventilator prototype, 3D-printed masks and disinfection box for personal protective equipment. There were students who used spaces inside the facility to attend their virtual classes and then return to work on projects.

"The team will work from 9am for 30 minutes before the curfew timing. We have people from different academic backgrounds. We have a mix of right people and succeed as a team for all have the spirit to help. "This experience has helped youths aged 20-24 years to upscale their skills. Imagine an electrical engineer doing a mechanical engineer's work. We don't have a biological engineer, so a chemical engineer will read necessary scientific papers and give inputs for the project."

Treading different paths, the team didn't order raw materials online from abroad but went to an industrial area in Mussfah to snare prized stuff. "We did our brainstorming. We looked at the cost aspect and went for cheap and best materials. We went to this nice place called Mussafah where you have crazy hardware things, tools and components. Most things are from there. We took few things from Dubai and booked a few sensors from China."
Low-cost ventilator.

Mariam Al Menhali, an electrical engineer, recollected how the team picked their first challenge of making a cost-effective ventilator.

"We built a prototype of ventilator in seven days and later modified it. We are still in the process of making it more efficient." The prototype costs less than $300.

"We looked to reduce cost but couldn't compromise on safety."
The team seeks help from business houses to produce the ventilator commercially for a larger cause.

Mask for every nose

Mohammed Al Yousuf, a mechanical designer, said 3D face masks are customised to suit a person's face.

"We face a shortage of masks all over the world. We, as a team of scientists, came up with a solution. We designed 3D face masks and face shields. We just need to change its filter. This is not only a reusable product but also cuts costs. We can have them ready for all -  children, adults, and those with big and small noses."

DIY solutions for all

Mohammed Saif Al Kaabi is proud of Do It Yourself solutions for community like the ultraviolet-based and ozone-based disinfection boxes. While the UV box can sterilise phone and face masks, ozone box is used for bigger objects. "The UV-based box is my baby. We made it from acrylic sheets and coated it inside with aluminium foil. So, light of UV will be reflected on each side of the box. We have used two bulbs, which will give maximum UV luminance inside and will decrease the time taken for disinfection." He noted most parts can be bought at any hardware stores.

The team noted that these solutions can be used beyond the Covid-19 phase.
ashwani@khaleejtimes.com

 

Ashwani Kumar


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