MTU RESEARCHERS PLAY LEAD ROLE IN NATIONAL RESPONSE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC
The MTU research community has been very active during all phases of the pandemic and has been widely recognised and lauded for its efforts.
In 2020 we had little knowledge of the how the virus was spreading within our communities and reagents developed with the assistance of the Biological Sciences Department were an important element in helping to piece together critical information that assisted the development of the most efficient response methodologies. MTU researchers in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering joined the Benshspace consortium using their 3D printer technology to produce 400+ high quality face shields for frontline medical workers. The consortium produced >13,000 for the HSE using 230 3D printers nationwide. The MTU researchers involved also worked with the HSE to develop a design for a single piece visor design, engaging with our extensive network of manufacturing companies throughout Ireland to help review the design and optimised it for their manufacturing processes.
At the same time MTU researchers worked with the National Standards Authority of Ireland on the production of a consensus-based specification for non-medical and non-PPE masks (barrier masks) for the general public at a time when supplies of specialist masks was under enormous pressure.
Also in 2020, MTU researchers were awarded the prestigious Science Foundation Ireland Research Image of the Year for their image of two “talking heads”, one masked and the other not. The team who worked on the project included astrophysicists, photonics specialists and bio-scientists, in a great example of what can be achieved with a truly multidisciplinary approach to problem solving.
In 2022 the University was awarded “University of the Year for Covid Impact” by the Sunday Times. According to Alastair McCall, Editor of The Sunday Times Good University Guide, the public health messaging of this image is as relevant today as the pandemic continues as when it was first published in 2020 at a time when it was only just becoming apparent that Covid transmission was aerosol, rather than contact-driven. “They say a picture is worth one thousand words; this is a picture that could also save thousands of lives, and on its own earned MTU our University of the Year award for COVID Impact for its significance and societal reach,” he said.
Throughout the pandemic the MTU research community has been providing advice on mask wearing and ventilation strategies. This was most evident in the early phases of Covid-19 when MTU researchers were able to analyse the global scientific literature and advise on the latest understanding, enabling early planning for appropriate responses.
The link to MTU’s web pages on Covid-19 for staff and students is: https://covid19.cit.ie/