Scientists and doctors aren't the only people helping contain and treat COVID-19. Across the nation, STEM students are joining the fight. Whether by themselves or in support of professors, these students are offering help in a variety of areas.
The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted many students' lives. Despite this change, everyone from high school students to Ph.D. candidates is lending a hand to help researchers and medical staff.
Tracking the Virus
Tracking the spread of COVID-19 is essential to developing a proper response. To help in this endeavor, Johns Hopkins University developed an interactive map that shows global infection rates. Professor Lauren Gardner built the site with the help of her graduate students.
This map has been able to report new infections, even before the World Health Organization (WHO). It serves a vital role in understanding the coronavirus, and it might not have been possible without STEM students. The Johns Hopkins Department of Civil and Systems Engineering plans to continue improving the platform.
Developing New Technology
As more people contract COVID-19, medical equipment becomes a more urgent need. STEM students and professors at several universities have started designing and producing ventilators to help under-equipped hospitals. Ventilators aren't the only medical technology students have developed, either.
A team of doctorate students from the University of Washington is working on a cough-detection smartphone app. This software, once released, will help people monitor symptoms of the disease and track its spread. It will also help medical staff monitor patients without being in the same room.
3D Printing Face Shields
3D printing is a growing part of medical manufacturing and is especially valuable in times of need. As hospitals rush to acquire more protective equipment, they need fast, cheap ways of producing it. STEM students are helping by creating face shields.
A team of robotics students in San Diego has already made 300 face shields through 3D printing. The students plan to print at least 600 for local healthcare workers, keeping doctors and nurses safe as they treat COVID-19 patients.
Lending Processing Power to Virus Research
Researchers use coronavirus simulations to see how it might react under different circumstances. These simulations are essential to research, but require a vast amount of processing power. Cornell College's esports team is donating their unused computers to a supercomputer network to run them.
The team's computers use powerful graphics processing units (GPUs), which are ideal for complex calculations. With the help of these processors, the supercomputer network can run more simulations at faster speeds. Cornell's esports team has 12 of these gaming computers, offering an impressive amount of processing power.
Donating to Community Organizations
Processing power isn't the only thing STEM students are donating. Medical students at the University of Pittsburgh are directing their fundraising efforts to organizations helping disadvantaged communities. The students raised $11,000 for a Match Day celebration, but are now using that money to help the community.
Recipients of these donations include free healthcare clinics and food banks, organizations that are seeing more demand because of COVID-19. On top of their own contributions, the students have collected $14,000 from faculty members.
Anyone Can Help Fight COVID-19
STEM students of all fields and levels are helping in the fight against the novel coronavirus. Some are doctorate students at acclaimed universities, while others are still in high school. If anything, this variety shows how anyone can contribute to important causes.
Fighting the COVID-19 outbreak isn't just the territory of scientific professionals. It's a task that everyone can take on. STEM students across the country are proving how it's possible to assist with limited resources.
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Kayla Matthews is a robotics and EdTech writer whose work has appeared on The Robot Report, Information Age, Learning Liftoff and Robotics Business Review. To read more from Kayla, please visit her tech blog.