University of Newcastle expertise sees lifesaving ventilator prototype secure state backing.
Each year The University Of Newcastle (UON) produces thousands of talented graduates and they watch with pride as they trade the campuses for new workplaces, set to make their mark on the world and in their local communities. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of almost thirty Hunter-based UON alumni and staff have done just that – contributing to an emergency ventilator prototype project led by Ampcontrol to be selected by the NSW Government for pre-production.
Project Lead and Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment Conjoint Senior Fellow and Ampcontrol Group Manager Engineering, Dr Ian Webster, said the success of the project relied on the strong connections between Ampcontrol and The University of Newcastle.
“When we kicked off this project, we were asked to produce 600 ventilators in 28 days. My affiliation with the Faculty of Engineering meant I could immediately reach out to Brett Ninness, as I knew the expertise and facilities housed at UON would be hugely beneficial to the project,” Dr Webster said.
“Since 2004, we’ve had a unique partnership with the University via our joint venture ResTech, which has created a direct path for students to complete placements and do research work with Ampcontrol.
As a result of the strong engineering alumni network in the Hunter Region, around 60% of the ventilator prototype team are UON alumni. Safearth, and NewieVentures – both Hunter-based leading engineering companies with strong alumni ties – also came on board as collaborative partners. The University of Newcastle graduates have a unique set of skills that make them ideal candidates for the work we do. I’m so proud of the team who are working tirelessly to ensure our clinicians have the lifesaving equipment they need.”
The ventilator prototype, dubbed ‘Anemoi’, will now move into production of 10 units for further testing. If the model is successful in completing the pre-production phase, full production would be manufactured in NSW supporting the local industry, the local economy, and employment.
“This prototype is likely to become a new manufacturing product, diversifying our business and supporting regional development,” Dr Webster said.
To quickly accelerate their knowledge of ventilator systems, the Ampcontrol team engaged with the University to guide solutions and minimise clinical and deployment risks.
Professor Brett Ninness said our COVID-19 response was a powerful example of collaborating across STEM disciplines.
“COVID-19 presented a situation where people skilled across health, science, engineering, design, and commercialisation needed to come together to rapidly collaborate to solve imperative global issues. We were part of that solution, so this is a proud moment for us all to celebrate,” Professor Brett Ninness said.
“Our strong industry connections have proven invaluable in ensuring our people are embedded in the local response to COVID-19 and our graduates remain highly sought after for their expertise.”
“This is another example of the power of the University of Newcastle, local business, and government partners coming together to demonstrate leadership on important issues in our region and beyond.”
The NSW Premier said that with the easing of restrictions there could be a rise in COVID-19 infections, in which case it’s imperative hospitals to have all the equipment they need. Read NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s announcement here.
Photo credit: UON