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Business News of Tuesday, 26 May 2020


UK company initiates ventilator design competition for African engineering students

Ghana took up the challenge to design a ventilator that balances engineering & medical applicability Ghana took up the challenge to design a ventilator that balances engineering & medical applicability

Field Ready Ltd. – a UK SME that collaborates with government and industry to run employability programmes that prepare young graduates with the skills, knowledge and behaviour required by industrial companies – has recently concluded the first phase of its Field Ready ventilator challenge.

Sixteen teams of male and female engineers, students and alumni of Field Ready’s employability programmes in Mozambique and Ghana, took up the challenge to design a ventilator that balances engineering excellence with medical applicability and manufacturing practicality.

The 4-week challenge to design a simple, practical and scalable ventilator was in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and saw ‘Team Marvel’ – a team of three young engineers from Ghana comprising Ms. Patience Nortey, Ms. Nelly Appertey and Mr. Ishmael Asare – emerge as design winners.

A company spokesperson noted that the inspiration behind the challenge was not only from the desire to fulfil their objective of training local talent in the face of ‘stay at home restrictions’ being globally observed, but also to spotlight the remarkable potential of local talent if given the right support and guidance.

Jack Pegram, Managing Director of Field Ready said: “Everyone at Field Ready has been amazed by the response of our students – with some incredibly innovative designs. It makes us very proud to be helping these talented young people become the engineering leaders of the future”.

Field Ready Ltd. has also partnered with Siemens, which will support with further expertise as well as the manufacturing of a prototype; and Daniel Taylor, Head of Service and Digital-Siemens Energy Southern & Eastern Africa, also expressed the company’s pleasure at being able to support such an empowering project.

“This is a great example of an engineering community coming together to create an innovation for social good. We are extremely proud to be a part of this initiative, as it is not only in aid of ramping up efforts to help curb COVID-19; we also get to work with and mentor a team of young individuals to perfect their design and ultimately manufacture a prototype.”

The winning teams will all receive prizes sponsored by Sasol, Daystar Power and Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA), and the final design will be presented to the Minister of Employment and Labour in Ghanam and the Minister of Science, Technology, Professional, Higher and Technical Education in Mozambique.

All teams were mentored, and judged, by an expert panel of leading figures in academia, engineering and science experts from around the world – including ventilator design project team E-vent from M.I.T; Virgin Orbit, University of California; and Texas A&M’s Bridge Ventilator Consortium; Cranfield University and Georgia Tech Bag Valve Mask; EPCM Holding’s ventilator; the Kahanu ventilator; and SEAT’s OxyGEN ventilator.

The UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT Africa) has been supporting Field Ready Ltd. across the continent by mapping out priority and strategic markets to increase their footprint.

Their overseas teams, stationed in several countries across Africa, are also supporting expansion objectives into other parts of Africa including Nigeria, with introductions to potential partners and collaborations like the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and a host of other entities.

Field Ready Ltd. and DIT Africa are also in talks with the Nigerian Ministry of Education to bring the youth-enabling programme to the Yaba College of Technology (Yabatech).

The next phase will see representatives from all the teams collaborate to improve on the winning design before proceeding to production of a prototype.