Global Health Seminar: Polyvent by Dr. Robert Read and Nathaniel Bechard

Rice360 Institute for Global Health Technologies hosted a GLHT Seminar: The Polyvent Educational Platform from speakers Dr. Robert Read & Nathaniel Bechard.

Informational Flyer displaying The Polyvent Educational Platform

Polyvent is a free-libre open-source mechanical ventilator platform designed for education and research now and a basis for fully functional medical ventilators in the future. Dr. Read indicated that this design currently exists for universities to benefit from developing and iterating. Ultimately, companies interested in commercializing the ventilator will benefit from the research and development performed by this open-source community of university engineering students and graduate students.

Nathan Bechard introduced the Polyvent hardware to the attendees. He showed the development of Polyvent from an idea through many stages, explaining the team’s design decisions along the way. Attendees were invited to view the prototypes he brought with him and discuss the designs.

Mr. Bechard outlined how the respirator design was adapted to overcome constraints. The Polyvent hardware can be worked on by individuals using non-specialized tools, such as screwdrivers. The design incorporates Arduino computer boards and inexpensive off-the-shelf, hardware. These hardware choices provide a fast development platform that is accessible to developers from a wide range of funding. The project’s software is open-source and available on the internet.

                                                                                       “Science is about truth. Engineering is about compromise.”

                                                                                                                          Dr. Robert Read

Dr. Read stressed the importance of approaching invention as a cooperative effort. Designers should expect to iterate, make progress, and then prepare and document their work to have it carried on after their time on the project. He said that engineering has moved to this cooperative approach and is no longer the work of a single person with a single invention.

Embracing this cooperative effort, he suggested that early-career professionals design for prototyping and aim for publication and use the publication to iterate with others. This iterative design method will move ideas forward. He suggested that if peer-reviewed publication is not possible, projects should publish on open forums, such as GitHub, to keep the ideas moving along.

Attendees participated in a question-and-answer session and interacted with the Polyvent demonstration equipment that Dr. Read and Mr. Bechard brought with them to the event.