VHA’s Innovation Ecosystem (VHA IE) and the Veteran nonprofit, Challenge America, have partnered with federal agencies, private industry, research universities, and nonprofits for a series of COVID-19 Maker Challenges.
The series develops innovative solutions to the challenges encountered by workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. it began with a kick-off event and a week of team research and redesign, culminating in a two-day final make-a-thon competition.
During the two-day make-a-thons, engineers and designers developed solutions to the identified challenges. They used rapid manufacturing processes, like 3D printing, to scale for the needs on the ground.
The first COVID-19 Maker Challenge make-a-thon took place in early May. It focused on the challenges that first responders face. The nine teams of designers and engineers worked with them, VHA IE subject matter experts, and Challenge America leadership to complete their new innovative solution designs.
Winning team developed face mask for first responders
Teams first focused on how to decontaminate vehicles. Later, on how to lower the risk of infection between first responders and the public. This led to ideas on how to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 between first responders.
The competition winner, Team Happy Face, developed a face mask solution for first responders. It was as durable as an N-95 mask, but less intimidating to constituents.
The latest COVID-19 Maker Challenge event began May 29 and culminated with a two-day make-a-thon on June 6 and 7. This event focused on the needs of environmental management service workers. The next Maker challenge will kickoff on July 10, and be held on July 17 and 18, focusing on ways to help assisted living homes.
There’s information for subject matter experts in engineering, manufacturing, 3D printing, infection control, industrial and experience design, emergency response worker, or health care staff. If you would like to participate on a team or submit a challenge, please visit the COVID-19 Maker Challenge webpage to learn more and register.