predicts economic, public health repercussions of lifting quarantine before COVID-19 vaccine<img alt="" src="/Profiles/PublishingImages/Nehorai_2017.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><div id="__publishingReusableFragmentIdSection"><a href="/ReusableContent/36_.000">a</a></div><p>​</p><p><img src="/news/PublishingImages/PBAF-8626%20Quarantine%20Scenarios%20Illustrative%20Chart%20for%20Media-01.png" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/></p><p>COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-Cov-2 virus, was officially declared a pandemic on March 11 by the World Health Organization. Nearly two months later, many municipalities and states around the country have decided to relax some of the limitations put in place to prevent the disease from spreading at a pace that threatened to overwhelm the health care system.</p><p>New interdisciplinary research from Washington University in St. Louis — carried out by an electrical and systems engineer and a biomedical engineer from the McKelvey School of Engineering and a health care economist from the Olin Business School — outlines the effects on the economy and health outcomes of three distinct quarantine scenarios.</p><p>Their model indicates that, of the scenarios they consider, keeping a strict self-quarantine policy for seniors until the number of new infections is drastically reduced, while gradually loosening the policy for the rest of the population, will lead to the best economic and health outcomes.</p><p>One key result is the model’s prediction of the way in which different scenarios affect the number of people hospitalized. In two scenarios, the maximum number of simultaneous hospitalizations is about 189,000. In one, however, about 4.4 million people would need to be hospitalized at once.</p><p>Their work is<a href=""> published on MedRxiv</a> and is currently under review.</p><p>In general, the team sought to answer the question: “What is the most effective way to handle a country-wide quarantine for 76 weeks?” by which time the model assumes a vaccine is available. “The goal is to quantify and mitigate the impact of the current pandemic,” according to <a href="">Arye Nehorai</a>, the Eugene and Martha Lohman Professor of Electrical Engineering in the Preston M. Green Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering.<br/></p><p></p><p>The group — which also includes David Schwartzman, a business economics PhD candidate in the Olin School, and Uri Goldsztejn, a PhD candidate in biomedical engineering — started with a Susceptible, Exposed, Infectious, Recovered (SEIR) model, a commonly used mathematical tool for predicting the spread of infections. This dynamic model allows for people to be moved between groups known as compartments, and for each compartment to in turn influence the other.</p><p>At their most basic, these models divide the population into four compartments: Those who are susceptible, exposed, infectious and recovered.</p><p>Nehorai and his team used compartments with data sourced from peer-reviewed sources:</p> <ul> <li><p>Susceptible population</p></li><li><p>Quarantined susceptible population</p></li><li><p>Exposed population<br/></p></li><li><p>Quarantined exposed population</p></li><li><p>Infected hospitalized population</p></li><li><p>Infected asymptomatic population</p></li><li><p>Quarantined infected asymptomatic population</p></li><li><p>Dead population</p></li><li><p>Recovered population</p></li><li><p>Quarantined recovered population</p></li></ul><p>Beyond those 10 categories, each was subdivided into seniors, aged 60 and older, and non-seniors, as well as into those who are more able to work from home and those whose productivity is more damaged at home and who earn less to begin with.</p><p>“And then we added something very important,” said Goldsztejn. “A large fraction of the population is asymptomatic. These people move a lot and are contagious, as opposed to ebola, for instance, where the sick are easy to spot and isolate.”</p><p>The team’s model was able to incorporate these people, as well. They did so by varying the contagiousness of asymptomatic people to mirror public health measures and individual behavioral changes in responses to the severity of the pandemic. To account for improvements in health knowledge over time, they model better health outcomes for those getting sick later.</p><p><span style="color: #666666; font-family: "open sans"; font-size: 1.15em; font-weight: 700;">Rushing to reopen worse in the end</span></p><p>In the end, the model shows three different possibilities of how quarantine might play out in the economy and in the health care system based on three different policy responses.</p><p>What they found, in short: “Rushing to reopen public spaces and businesses is great for a few weeks, but down the line, it’s very much worse,” Goldsztejn said.</p><p>In all three scenarios, there are three constants: 85% of non-seniors are quarantined; no restrictions are loosened for the first 40 weeks; a vaccine is available in 76 weeks; the majority of seniors remain quarantined until the vaccine is available.</p><p>In the first scenario, fairly restrictive quarantine measures are kept in place for 76 weeks. That leads to a sharp economic decline and about 200,000 deaths.</p><p>In the second, restrictive quarantine measures remain for 40 weeks, at which point the non-seniors go back to business as usual. This would lead to a rapid economic recovery followed by a second outbreak. Strict quarantine measures would need to be reestablished, which would undo any economic gain, and result in about 700,000 deaths.</p><p>The third scenario is similar to the second, but instead of going straight back to business as usual, the non-senior population leaves quarantine at a rate of 0.1% per day. Modeling shows this scenario to foster slow, steady economic improvement and about 220,000 deaths — with no second outbreak.</p><p>The addition of asymptomatic people had a profound effect, as well, suggesting that public health measures aimed at everyone — such as social distancing and limiting gatherings — will also help to limit the spread of the disease.</p><p>The scenarios considered by the model shared one outcome: No quarantine approach could bring economic and health outcomes back to pre-pandemic stages before a vaccine becomes available.</p><p>“Our research on modeling COVID-19 spread and the economy shows that it is critical to open the markets gradually while continuing the quarantine of seniors,” Nehorai said. In real-world terms, this means lifting restrictions at work several industries at a time, or gradually letting more low-risk people gather in one place.</p><p>However, he said, “If policymakers prioritize short-term economic productivity more, their quarantine policies may lead to many times more deaths and hospitalizations with minimal short-term economic gain.”</p><SPAN ID="__publishingReusableFragment"></SPAN><p><br/></p><span> <div class="cstm-section"><h3>Arye Nehorai</h3><div style="text-align: center;"> <img src="/Profiles/PublishingImages/Nehorai_2017.jpg?RenditionID=3" class="ms-rtePosition-4" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/> <br/> </div><div style="text-align: left;"><ul style="padding-left: 20px; caret-color: #343434; color: #343434;"><li>The Eugene & Martha Lohman Professor of Electrical Engineering<br/></li><li>Research: Mathematical modeling of complex systems, statistical signal processing, machine learning, and imaging for information inference and decision making.<br/></li></ul></div><div style="text-align: center;"> <a href="/Profiles/Pages/Arye-Nehorai.aspx">>> ​View Bio</a><br/></div> </div></span>Brandie Jefferson avoid ‘worse’ outcome than past two months, model suggests seniors quarantined, measured reopening — under certain conditions<p>​To avoid ‘worse’ outcome than past two months, model suggests seniors quarantined, measured reopening — under certain conditions<br/></p> the Class of 2020 valedictoriansWhile the global pandemic has impacted Commencement ceremonies at Washington University in St. Louis, it hasn’t lessened the quality, pride or accomplishments of the class of 2020.<br/><img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/Valedictorians%202020.jpg?RenditionID=2" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />This year, the McKelvey School of Engineering honors 10 students who have excelled beyond their peers by earning the class’s highest academic marks. <div> <br/>Meet the McKelvey Engineering Class of 2020 valedictorians and learn more about their experiences at WashU and how they helped prepare them for their futures.<span><hr/></span></div><div><h3>Alex Baker</h3><p> <b>Major in computer science with a second major in finance<br/>Hometown: Springfield, Missouri</b></p> <img src="/news/PublishingImages/Pages/meet-the-class-of-2020-valedictorians/baker-alex.jpg?RenditionID=6" alt="baker-alex.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin: 5px 10px;"/> <p> One of Alex Baker’s most enriching learning experiences occurred while he was teaching.<br/></p><p>The Department of Computer Science & Engineering offers undergraduate students the opportunity to help faculty instruct courses; Baker served as a TA for CSE 131: Introduction to Computer Science.</p><p>"The experience taught me how to communicate technical ideas, work with people and exposed me to several great learning opportunities,” he said.</p><p>Baker plans to continue his studies in computer science at WashU and earn a Master of Science degree. He said he’s drawn to the limitless possibilities of the field.</p><p>“Computers are neither smart nor dumb; they simply follow directions,” he said. “You can get a computer to do anything, as long as you can imagine it.”<br/></p><span><hr/></span><p><span style="color: #555555; font-family: "libre baskerville", "times new roman", serif; font-size: 1.25em;">Barathkumar Baskaran</span><br/></p><div> <strong>Major in chemical engineering with minors in finance and environmental engineering science<br/>Hometown: Gilberts, Illinois</strong></div><div> <br/> </div> <img src="/news/PublishingImages/Pages/meet-the-class-of-2020-valedictorians/baskaran-barathkumar.jpg?RenditionID=6" alt="baskaran-barathkumar.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin: 5px 10px;"/> <div>WashU was always Barathkumar Baskaran’s top pick of schools. He applied during the early decision admission period and, in his words, “never looked back.”</div><div> <br/> </div><div>“I appreciated the strength of WashU's academics, but I also appreciated the spirit of collaboration rather than competition that was present across campus,” he said.</div><div> <br/> </div><div>One such collaboration is that has made an impact on his development as a scholar and an engineer is his work with his research mentor Hani Zaher.</div><div> <br/> </div><div>“A large part of research is repetitively dealing with an experimental failure and then being able to move on and troubleshoot,” Baskaran said. “I gained that resiliency through my experience in his lab, and his mentorship has been an invaluable component of my decision to pursue graduate school.”</div><div> <br/> </div><div>Like many of Baskaran’s classmates, he’s disappointed by COVID-19’s impact on his senior year.</div><div> <br/> </div><div>“I am sure I am not alone in the students who had a bucket list of things they wanted to do one last time, and I was most definitely looking forward to walking across the stage at Commencement,” he said.</div><div> <br/> </div><div>Still, despite the change in plans, Baskaran is remaining optimistic about his experience. He’s looking forward to pursuing a doctoral degree in chemical engineering at MIT.</div><div> <br/> </div><div>“I am grateful for the past three years that I've had at WashU,” he said. “Even with the absence of the final quarter of my senior year, I don't feel the friendships and memories of these past few years are diminished, but rather enhanced.”<br/></div><div><span><hr/></span> <span style="color: #555555; font-family: "libre baskerville", "times new roman", serif; font-size: 1.25em;">Saima Choudhury</span></div><div> <b>Major in chemical engineering</b></div><div><b>Hometown: Houston, Texas<br/></b><br/><img src="/news/PublishingImages/Pages/meet-the-class-of-2020-valedictorians/choudhury-saima.jpg?RenditionID=6" alt="choudhury-saima.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin: 5px 10px;"/> <p>While Saima Choudhury excelled in the classroom, she’s also thrived outside of it. She served on the leadership of WashU’s Muslim Students Association, Strive for College, the WashU chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and <i>Colour</i> magazine.</p><p>Choudhury said she valued these opportunities to grow as a student, a leader and a person.</p><p>“Being at WashU has taught me to adapt to a new and uncomfortable environment, to confront ugly truths about the world, to be more vulnerable with myself and my friends, and to develop new ways of thinking,” she said.</p><p>She encourages other WashU students to break out of their bubble and explore, whether that’s getting out into the city or studying a new and unfamiliar subject.</p><p>“Being at WashU gives you unique access to resources some people can’t even dream of, so use them,” she said. “Start early; don’t give yourself the excuse that it can wait, because the year will be over before you know it.”<br/></p><span><hr/></span><p><span style="color: #555555; font-family: "libre baskerville", "times new roman", serif; font-size: 1.25em;">Yoon Ho ”Raphael” Chung</span><br/></p><div> <strong>Major in biomedical engineering and a second major in applied science in electrical engineering</strong></div><div><strong>Hometown: Seoul, South Korea</strong></div><div> <br/> </div> <img src="/news/PublishingImages/Pages/meet-the-class-of-2020-valedictorians/chung-raphael.jpg?RenditionID=6" alt="chung-raphael.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin: 5px 10px;"/> <div>The current pandemic has caused major disruptions for members of the Class of 2020, but Raphael Chung said he hopes that his fellow graduates don’t let the changes discourage them.</div><div> <br/> </div><div> “Even if a lot of things seem outside of your control, there is always something that can be done,” he said. “It might be taking a step back and reprioritizing things to prepare for the next step forward.”</div><div> <br/>Following graduation, Chung will take part in the ZeroTo510 medical device accelerator program, a role that — combined with his WashU education — will empower him to achieve his career aspirations.</div><div> <br/>“I’ve always wanted to help people be healthy and improve their quality of life,” Chung said. “I found biomedical engineering to be an interesting and exciting approach for working towards those goals.”<br/></div><div><span><hr/></span> <span style="color: #555555; font-family: "libre baskerville", "times new roman", serif; font-size: 1.25em;"></span><span style="color: #555555; font-family: "libre baskerville", "times new roman", serif; font-size: 1.25em;"></span><span style="color: #555555; font-family: "libre baskerville", "times new roman", serif; font-size: 1.25em;"></span><span style="color: #555555; font-family: "libre baskerville", "times new roman", serif; font-size: 1.25em;">T</span><span style="color: #555555; font-family: "libre baskerville", "times new roman", serif; font-size: 1.25em;">ianci</span><span style="color: #555555; font-family: "libre baskerville", "times new roman", serif; font-size: 1.25em;"></span><span style="color: #555555; font-family: "libre baskerville", "times new roman", serif; font-size: 1.25em;"></span><span style="color: #555555; font-family: "libre baskerville", "times new roman", serif; font-size: 1.25em;"> Hu</span></div><div> <strong>Major in computer science<br/></strong><b>Hometown: Nanjing, China</b><br/><br/><img src="/news/PublishingImages/Pages/meet-the-class-of-2020-valedictorians/hu-tianci-new.jpg?RenditionID=6" alt="hu-tianci-new.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin: 10px;"/></div><div>Three things drew Tianci Hu to WashU: The prestige of the university, its small undergraduate student body and recommendations from close friends.</div><div> <br/> </div><div>As expected, the rigorous education proved to be a challenge at times, but Hu was able to succeed thanks to “a lot of reading, practice and a bit of luck.”</div><div> <br/> </div><div>And because of that dedication, he’s more than prepared for his future role with Citadel LLC, a hedge fund and financial services company.</div><div> <br/> </div><div>“I’m excited to explore the financial market and see how my math and computer science background will contribute to the investment process,” he said.<br/></div><div><br/></div><div><br/></div><div><span><hr/></span> <span style="color: #555555; font-family: "libre baskerville", "times new roman", serif; font-size: 1.25em;">Jessie Korovin</span></div> <b>Major in systems engineering with a second major in financial engineering and a minor in computer science<br/>Hometown: Livingston, New Jersey<br/></b><p style="font-weight: bold;"></p> <b></b><img src="/news/PublishingImages/Pages/meet-the-class-of-2020-valedictorians/korovin-jessie.jpg?RenditionID=6" alt="korovin-jessie.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin: 5px 10px; width: 293px; height: 298px;"/> <p>Jessie Korovin has one piece of advice for his fellow classmates: Spend as much time as possible with the people you care about. </p><p>As a student of both engineering and finance, Korovin faced many challenges in his academic career that he would not have been able to overcome without the support of his friends, teachers and classmates.</p> <p>“Collaboration in general has been important for my success at WashU,” he said.</p> <p>One of his biggest challenges was a mathematical finance course he took as part of his second major.<br/></p> <p>“It was a graduate-level course with quite a few PhD students,” he said. “The material was incredibly difficult, but I was able to persevere with the help of a friend.”</p> <p>And as he moves forward to his career as an analyst for PGIM Inc., those relationships are what he’ll miss most at WashU.</p> <p>“My WashU experience was highlighted by the lifelong friendships I've made,” he said.<b></b></p><span><hr/></span><p><span style="color: #555555; font-family: "libre baskerville", "times new roman", serif; font-size: 1.25em;">Nick Matteucci</span><br/></p> <div style="font-weight: bold;"> <strong>Major in chemical engineering with a minor in energy engineering<br/>Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri</strong></div> <div> <b style="font-weight: bold;"><br/></b><b><img src="/news/PublishingImages/Pages/meet-the-class-of-2020-valedictorians/matteucci-nick.jpg?RenditionID=6" alt="matteucci-nick.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin: 5px 10px;"/></b> <p>The child of a WashU professor, Nick Matteucci was hoping to get as far away as he could for college.</p><p>He eventually came around — mentally and physically.</p><p>"After touring the beautiful campus and meeting with professors, students and Coach [Jeff] Stiles, I knew there was no other school I wanted to go to," he said </p><p>It's the community that drew Matteucci to the university, and it's also what he'll miss the most.</p><p>"There are so many brilliant, humble and driven people that create the exciting and fun atmosphere I've come to love here."<br/><br/>As he moves on to earn a doctoral degree in chemical engineering, he has a few words of encouragement for his fellow seniors.<br/></p><p>"I feel blessed and grateful for all the time we got at WashU to be a community, despite being heartbroken that our second semester was uprooted the way it was," he said. "Hopefully, we can use this unusual time to remember to pursue what we love and not take time for granted, as everything can change in an instant."<b></b></p><span><hr/></span><p><span style="color: #555555; font-family: "libre baskerville", "times new roman", serif; font-size: 1.25em;">Patrick Naughton</span><br/></p></div> <div rtenodeid="5"><strong> </strong><strong>Major in electrical engineering with a second major in computer science<br/></strong><b>Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri</b></div> <div style="font-weight: bold;"> <br/> </div> <b><img src="/news/PublishingImages/Pages/meet-the-class-of-2020-valedictorians/naughton-patrick.jpg?RenditionID=6" alt="naughton-patrick.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin: 5px 10px;"/></b> <div>What drew Patrick Naughton to WashU was the opportunity to take part in research and hands-on experiences as an undergraduate.</div> <div> <br/> </div> <div> “The ubiquity of electronics and computers makes me interested to learn as much as I can about how they work and ways to improve them,” he said.</div> <div> <br/> </div> <div>In the classroom, Naughton found inspiration from faculty who challenged and motivated him to excel.</div> <div> <br/> </div> <div>“Professor [William] Richard helped me develop an interest in hardware design and supported my academic progress,” he said. “His sequence of courses pushed me to think about computer science and engineering in new ways.”</div> <div> <br/> </div> <div>After he graduates, Naughton plans to pursue a doctoral degree in computer science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.</div> <div> <br/> </div> <div>“I am most excited to begin working on more independent research and developing my skills to contribute to scientific knowledge production,” he said.<b></b> <br/></div><div><span><hr/></span> <span style="color: #555555; font-family: "libre baskerville", "times new roman", serif; font-size: 1.25em;">Lucca Paletta</span></div><div style="font-weight: bold;"> <b>Major in mechanical engineering<br/>Hometown: Lake Odessa, Michigan</b></div> <div style="font-weight: bold;"> <br/> </div> <b><img src="/news/PublishingImages/Pages/meet-the-class-of-2020-valedictorians/paletta-lucca.jpg?RenditionID=6" alt="paletta-lucca.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin: 5px 10px;"/></b> <div>Lucca Paletta has been fascinated by physics since high school. Even when his course work stymied him, he met the challenge with determination.</div> <div> <br/>“The most difficult course for me was probably my second semester of physics,” he said. “Many of the electricity and magnetism concepts didn’t make intuitive sense to me, so I spent tons of time in office hours, asked the professor questions every day after class and got a private tutor.”</div> <div> <br/>The hard work paid off. Thanks to assistance he received from Engineering Student Services and course professor Martin Israel, Paletta not only passed the course, he went on to receive the Varney Prize for Introductory Physics.</div> <div> <br/>His next challenge? A five-year term with the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, the Naval Reactors, in Washington D.C.</div> <div> <br/>“I’ll get the chance to work on nuclear reactors and ensure the safety of many U.S. Navy sailors,” Paletta said. “I am excited for the opportunity to contribute to the clean energy industry and hopefully improve the lives of generations after me.”<b></b></div><div><span><hr/></span> <span style="color: #555555; font-family: "libre baskerville", "times new roman", serif; font-size: 1.25em;">F</span><span style="color: #555555; font-family: "libre baskerville", "times new roman", serif; font-size: 1.25em;">inn Voichick</span></div><div style="font-weight: bold;"> <strong>Major in computer science with a second major in mathematics and a minor in philosophy-neuroscience-psychology<br/></strong>Hometown: Madison, Wisconsin<br/><br/></div> <b><img src="/news/PublishingImages/Pages/meet-the-class-of-2020-valedictorians/voichick-finn.jpg?RenditionID=6" alt="voichick-finn.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin: 5px 10px;"/></b>For Finn Voichick, the most fascinating aspect of computer science is how it combines theory with practice. A member of Studio TESLA, Volchick has shared his love of engineering — both its theories and practice — with those in need.</div> <div> <br/>Volchick served as a member of the club’s Enrichment team, which created design challenges meant to inspire a love of STEM and innovation in underserved middle-school students.</div> <div> <br/>“It was a great experience,” he said. “Some of my favorite projects were blimp racing with helium balloons, building a small house to withstand extreme weather conditions and building a circuit to send Morse code messages.”</div> <div> <br/>Voichick will continue to study the intersection of theory and practice at the University of Maryland while pursuing a doctoral degree.</div> <div> <br/>“I'll miss the students and professors who have supported me and helped shape and deepen my interests and experiences at WashU,” Volchick said. “As a senior, our sudden campus departure has been challenging, and I regret not being able to say an in-person goodbye to my WashU community.”<b></b><br/> <p style="font-weight: bold;"> <br/> </p></div> </div>Danielle Lacey2020-05-06T05:00:00ZWhile the global pandemic has impacted Commencement ceremonies at Washington University in St. Louis, it hasn’t lessened the quality, pride or accomplishments of the class of 2020. engineering graduate program improves in U.S. News<img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/Green%20Hall%20WashU%20engineering.jpg?RenditionID=6" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>The graduate program in electrical engineering at the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis saw a significant increase in ranking by <em>U.S. News & World Report</em>. The program, which is offered by the Preston M. Green Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering, rose to No. 37 from No. 45.</p><p><em>U.S. News</em> ranks programs based on reputation among peer institutions, quality of the program's students and faculty research activity.<br/></p>Green HallDanielle Lacey2020-04-15T05:00:00ZThe program, offered by the Preston M. Green Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering, was ranked No. 37 in the nation by 'U.S. News & World Report'. the media: Eclectic St. Louis team of doctors, engineers and machinists answers call for emergency ventilators<img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/STL%20Today%20Covid%20Eclectic%20Team.image.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>​BRENTWOOD — In late March, amid growing uncertainty about the coronavirus spreading, doctors at Barnes-Jewish Hospital were concerned about the possibility of running out of ventilators, machines that force enriched air into the lungs so people can breathe.</p><p>Grim stories were coming out of Italy and New York about decisions being made when faced with depleted equipment.<br/></p><div><p>Prodded by President Donald Trump, some automotive manufacturers changed their production lines to build thousands of ventilators in the United States. But major deliveries aren’t expected to show up at loading docks for months.<br/></p><p>Doctors at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the Washington University School of Medicine wanted to explore more immediate options to meet the local surge of COVID-19 patients. And they wanted options that didn’t rely on the overburdened supply chain.<br/></p><p>On March 23, a formal push was made for emergency ventilators designed and built by experts in the St. Louis region who had ready access to parts. An eclectic team of engineers, scientists, doctors and machinists answered the call to action and delivered their first prototype for clinical simulation on Wednesday.<br/></p><p>Finishing touches on three more were underway Friday, with the promise that another 100 could be made soon, if needed.<br/></p><p>The small team is working together for the first time. Powered by a cumulative pile of advanced degrees and willingness to help, the group has a lot of street cred, perhaps best illustrated by Dennis Mell’s thumb, which was shortened a long time ago by a milling machine.<br/></p><p>“I was happy that somebody tracked me down,” said Mell, in charge of automating the new ventilators. “My first thought was there is a lot of complexity, so I hope we have a good team. And hopefully it’s inexpensive enough so we can help more people. I’ve always told people that it doesn’t do any good to design an artificial heart if it costs $100 million or some number that is unachievable.”<br/></p><p>Mell grew up working on dairy farms in the Farmington area before studying electrical engineering at what is now Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla. He went on to build cash register machines and their electronic components in Ithaca, New York, before returning to Missouri, where he and his wife, Ellen, started a machine shop in their garage in 1997. That shop grew into Custom Technologies, an engineering and manufacturing business here in a nondescript Brentwood industrial park.<br/></p><p><br/></p><p> <img src="/news/PublishingImages/Dennis%20Mell%20STL%20Today%201.image.jpg" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/> <br/> <span class="ms-rteStyle-Normal">Dennis Mell, an electrical and systems engineering professor at Washington University and chief technology officer at Custom Technologies, talks with his team as he tests a prototype ventilator attached to a calibration machine at Custom Technologies in Brentwood on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Photo by Robert Cohen, </span><span class="ms-rteStyle-Normal"><a href=""></a></span></p><p><br/></p><p> <img src="/news/PublishingImages/STL%20Today%20Prototype%20Ventilator.image.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/>The small firm typically makes an assortment of products for other businesses, ranging from food packaging to medical devices to playground equipment, perhaps the most unusual being a blue plastic raccoon face that peeps out of a tree.<br/></p><p>Ellen is the chief executive of the family business. Dennis also spends time as a professor of practice at the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University.<br/></p><p>Both in their 50s, they see themselves as part of the old guard of manufacturing.<br/></p><p>“As we have globalized so much, the concept of product design to full manufacturing, it’s not close to home anymore,” said Ellen.<br/></p><p>That they design and build under the same roof came in handy with the first emergency ventilator prototype, specifically being able to adapt the electronic controls to the ever changing mechanism.<br/></p><p>“It uses less energy than a coffeemaker,” said Dennis.<br/></p><div><h4>‘Good, cheap, effective’<br/></h4><p>Ventilators are like vehicles. There are really nice ones that cost about $50,000 and have lots of features, such as those in intensive care units that are good at keeping patients comfortable. Then there are emergency transport ventilators, the slimmed down versions used by first responders.<br/></p></div><p>The team’s first prototype was built with less than $2,000 in parts. It’s two feet tall and shaped like the rounded head of an alligator. At the base of what would be the brain, there’s a piece of PVC pipe that holds and protects the main component of the machine — one self-inflating resuscitation bag.<br/></p><p>Resuscitation bags, which are in plentiful supply in St. Louis, are made of clear plastic and shaped like a small football. In a pinch, paramedics, respiratory therapists and anesthesiologists hand pump the bags to help keep people breathing.<br/></p><p>The team made a mechanism to squeeze the resuscitation bag like a hand.<br/></p><p>A coffee-mug-shaped motor, supplied by a New York state company, hooks up to linkage that pushes a plunger straight down against the resuscitation bag, which pushes air through a plastic tube that’s supposed to feed into a patient’s windpipe. As the plunger retracts, the bag fills up for another breath.<br/></p><p>There are three basic settings: volume, speed and the ratio of inhale to exhale.<br/></p><p>“We are not going to get to perfect,” said Jerry Halley, 62, who is overseeing the project. “We want to make sure we get to good enough, cheap enough and effective enough. When Ford and GM really ramp up, they will blow by us. We are trying to fill that middle gap. We can be nimble.”</p><div><div><p>Halley’s regular job is chief engineer at <a href="" target="_blank">Tech Manufacturing</a>, a Wright City business that makes structural parts for fighter jets. Custom Technologies in Brentwood was handling the automation and software. The Instrument Machine Shop at the Washington University School of Medicine was doing most of the hardware and assembly.</p></div><div><p>“We could build 10 next week easily,” Halley said. “It just depends on the feedback from clinicians.”<br/></p><p><br/></p></div><p> <img src="/news/PublishingImages/WashU%20Machine%20Shop%20STL%20Today.jpg" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/> <br/> <span class="ms-rteStyle-Normal">John Kreitler, left, and Kevin Poenicke of the Instrument Machine Shop at Washington University School of Medicine build one of four prototype ventilators on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Photo by Robert Cohen, </span><span class="ms-rteStyle-Normal"><a href=""></a></span><br/></p><p><br/></p> <div><p> <a href="/Profiles/Pages/Philip-Bayly.aspx" target="_blank">Philip Bayly</a>, chair of mechanical engineering and materials science at Washington University, who has a hand in the ventilator project, said there are similar efforts going on around the country. He said the prototype built in St. Louis is based on a design from the University of Minnesota, which is similar to another at MIT. The University of Illinois also has proposed a design.</p></div><div><div><p>“We are definitely not trying to reinvent the wheel,” said Bayly, 55. “We are making a slightly different version because of the people and the materials that we have available to us.”</p><h4> ‘Five layers of plans’</h4></div><div><div><p>On Wednesday afternoon, Dr. <a href="" target="_blank">Broc Burke</a>, a former aeronautical engineer who now teaches and practices cardiothoracic anesthesiology at Washington University, picked up the first prototype at Custom Technologies to begin clinical simulation.</p></div><div><p>Dennis Mell introduced his wife, Ellen, as a physicist who earned advanced degrees in law and business, which come in handy for patents and manufacturing.</p></div><div><p>“So you, too, lack sanity,” Burke, 44, said about her collection of degrees.</p></div><div><p>“I find myself telling people, ‘Yeah, yeah, I am a lawyer, but I am nice,’” she said. “I don’t sue people.”<br/></p><p>They quickly got down to the basics of how the ventilator works.<br/></p></div><p>Burke saw a couple shortcomings. The possibility to overpressure the lungs and the inability to detect when patients try to take a breath on their own, which is necessary to wean them off ventilators.<br/></p><p>They agreed that pop off pressure valves and a separate loop in the controller could address those issues.<br/>“It’s all doable,” said Dennis.<br/></p><p>Burke was in good spirits. Based on recent projections for the area, the COVID-19 surge is supposed to peak the end of April. He said BJC is expected to have enough ventilators that are already approved by the FDA.<br/></p><p>But he liked the idea of having more options that could be quickly reproduced. He planned to thoroughly test the emergency ventilator version just in case the projections are wrong.<br/></p><p>“As an anesthesiologist, we always like to have about five layers of plans,” Burke said.<br/></p><p>They packed up the prototype and put it in the back of his SUV. It fit into an open cardboard box that had this printed across the bottom: <br/></p><p>Made in the U.S.A., St. Louis, Mo.</p><p> <img src="/news/PublishingImages/Machinist%20WashU%20Med%20STL%20Today.jpg" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/> <br/> <span class="ms-rteStyle-Normal">Machinist John Kreitler of the Instrument Machine Shop at Washington University School of Medicine builds one of four prototype ventilators on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Photo by Robert Cohen, </span> <a href=""> <span class="ms-rteStyle-Normal"></span></a><br/></p><p> <img src="/news/PublishingImages/Dennis%20Mell%20STL%20Today%20Ventilator%202.jpg" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/> <br/> <span class="ms-rteStyle-Normal">Dennis Mell, an electrical and systems engineering professor at Washington University and chief technology officer at Custom Technologies, adjusts air flow as he tests a prototype ventilator at Custom Technologies in Brentwood on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Scott Chaney, center, and Andrew Quirin, engineers from Q-Net Security, operate the device from a computer while they test a touchscreen interface that will eventually be attached to the ventilator. Photo by Robert Cohen, </span><a href=""><span class="ms-rteStyle-Normal"></span></a><br class="ms-rteStyle-Normal"/></p></div><p> <img src="/news/PublishingImages/Machine%20Shop%20WashU%20MEd%20Kevin%20Poenicke%20STL%20Today.jpg" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/> <br/> <span class="ms-rteStyle-Normal">Machinist Kevin Poenicke of the Instrument Machine Shop at Washington University School of Medicine builds one of four prototype ventilators on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Photo by Robert Cohen, </span><a href=""><span class="ms-rteStyle-Normal"></span></a></p><p></p></div></div></div>Dr. Broc Burke, who teaches and practices cardiothoracic anesthesiology at WashU, tests an emergency ventilator on a simulator mannequin in the Clinical Simulation Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital on Friday, April 10, 2020. Photo by Robert CohenJesse Bogan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch experts collaborate to meet the local surge of COVID-19 patients. Engineering students, alumna win NSF Graduate Research Fellowships<img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/feb2020-east-end.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><div id="__publishingReusableFragmentIdSection"><a href="/ReusableContent/36_.000">a</a></div><p>Several McKelvey School of Engineering students have been offered the highly competitive National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.</p><p>The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. The fellowship includes a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees, opportunities for international research and professional development, and the opportunity to conduct their own research.</p><p>In 2020, NSF made more than 2,000 fellowship offers to applicants. More than 1,700 applicants received honorable mentions, which is considered a significant academic achievement.</p><h4>The new fellows from McKelvey Engineering include:</h4><ul style="list-style-type: disc;"><li>Anna Marie Powell Eddelbuettel, who will earn a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering in May and will pursue graduate study at Princeton University;</li><li>Jacob Graham, who will earn a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in May and will pursue graduate study in mechanical engineering;<br/></li><li>Nicholas Matteucci, who will earn a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in May and will pursue graduate study in chemical engineering;<br/></li><li> Alumna Sydney Katz, who earned bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering and in applied science from Engineering in 2018, is pursuing graduate study in aeronautical and aerospace engineering at Stanford University.<br/></li></ul><h4>Fellows who are studying at McKelvey Engineering include:</h4><ul style="list-style-type: disc;"><li>Elisabeth Anna Jones, who earned a bachelor's degree from SUNY College at Geneseo and is a doctoral student in systems science & mathematics at WashU;</li><li>Xiaohong Tan, who earned a bachelor's degree from Purdue University and is a doctoral student in biomedical engineering at WashU;</li><li>Hannah Maria Zmuda, who earned a bachelor's degree from Washington State University and is a doctoral student in biomedical engineering at WashU;</li></ul><h4>Those receiving honorable mentions include:<br/></h4><ul style="list-style-type: disc;"><li>Patrick Ryan Naughton, who will earn a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and computer science from McKelvey Engineering in May, who will pursue robotics and computer vision;</li><li>Erin Newcomer, who earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Missouri, is a doctoral student in biomedical engineering at WashU;</li></ul><ul style="list-style-type: disc;"><li>Elizabeth Anne Sivriver, who will earn a degree in computer science and mathematics from Arts & Sciences in May and will pursue graduate study in the human-computer interface.</li></ul><p> </p><SPAN ID="__publishingReusableFragment"></SPAN><br/>Beth Miller 2020-04-02T05:00:00ZMcKelvey Engineering students and alumni win NSF Graduate Research Fellowships.