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Tim Osswald
June 3, 2020

Engineering projects selected for UW/WARF COVID-19 Accelerator Challenge

Written By: Staff

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation has selected several innovative projects led by College of Engineering faculty for development funding through the UW/WARF COVID-19 Accelerator Challenge. Each is designed to be rapidly advanced over the coming months to help combat the pandemic.

WARF received dozens of submissions from researchers and their teams across a wide range of affiliations, including the State Lab of Hygiene, UW Makerspace, statistics, design studies and the College of Engineering.

“When WARF announced this initiative back in April we did not know what kind of response we would receive given the many challenges – personal and scientific – our research community faces at this time,” says Erik Iverson, the organization’s chief executive officer. “The response was overwhelming.”

UW-Madison engineers are leaders on four of the nine selected projects:

  • Tim Osswald, Consolidated Papers Foundation Chair sponsored by the Mead Witter Foundation and professor of mechanical engineering, for mass production of cleanable and reusable respirators.
  • Lennon Rodgers, director of the UW Makerspace, for a compact air-purifying respirator.
  • David Beebe, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and biomedical engineering, with David O’Connor (pathology and laboratory medicine) and Thomas Friedrich (pathobiological sciences), for accelerated COVID-19 testing.
  • Joshua Medow, an associate professor of neurosurgery and an affiliate faculty member in biomedical engineering, for a digital assistance system for medical staff.

“We are grateful, humbled and excited to see how these innovations advance over the coming months to help our world respond and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Iverson says.

The grants, says Steve Ackerman, UW-Madison vice chancellor for research and graduate education, “are critical to helping our research community more quickly advance commercially promising technologies closer to the marketplace in response to COVID-19 impacts. It’s partnerships such as this one with WARF that allow us to tackle the immediate and ongoing challenges that this pandemic presents. We are grateful to WARF for offering this opportunity to UW-Madison and Morgridge Institute for Research researchers, from faculty to staff and students.”

Projects not selected for funding through the UW/WARF COVID-19 Challenge may still be connected to other supportive resources within WARF.

WARF’s operations have continued during the COVID-19 pandemic and the organization continues to welcome invention disclosures from UW-Madison faculty, staff and students.