Fighting the pandemic with STEM-based solutions | The Daily Star
06:01 PM, August 04, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:18 PM, August 04, 2020

Fighting the pandemic with STEM-based solutions

With modern academicians advocating for pragmatic educational systems, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education's interdependent approach to learning is becoming accessible in every corner of the world, including Bangladesh. Prioritising on creating local solutions for local problems, Wizkit, an organisation that embraces STEM-based training, research, and product innovation, worked on an array of projects on technical support for individuals with special needs, healthcare, renewable energy and menstrual hygiene. It was founded by Mushfiqur Rahman Saad, 24, and Bushra E Anjum, 25, in 2017.

Wizkit also incorporates students of their STEM education training programme. Two junior researchers, Waqar, 21, and Ishtiaque, 22, from the team have been developing solutions for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. They were inspired by Open Source COVID, an online movement to develop technologies to combat COVID-19 around the world. Open Source COVID interacts with doctors, engineers, experienced healthcare practitioners and people from many other fields, who are contributing to the fight against the pandemic.

Wizkit uses rapid prototyping and manufacturing to rally possible resources for COVID-19 solutions. Till now, they have produced 3D printed face shields and ear savers for doctors and emergency personnel, low cost ventilators, related medical tools and disinfection chambers. They have provided 3,500 units of face shields to doctors and other healthcare workers, free of charge.  Their UV Bots, the first ones to be made in Bangladesh, are also functional. They can be used to sterilise spaces that host large crowds.

Their disinfection chambers (4x4x7 feet) consist of 250 litre refills of a non-irritant disinfectant. Whenever the sensor systems pick up the proximity of a person, they activate a micro-droplet mist spray, lasting between 5 to 10 seconds, disinfecting the exterior of the body. At optimum settings, they can disinfect 2,500 people with just one refill.

 "As researchers and engineers, we thought of a scalable solution, with reasonable costs. We wanted to automate and replace the need of an individual to spray disinfectant mixtures in crowded places like shopping malls, markets and factories," said Mushfiqur. "We need to fight this pandemic with whatever resources we have to help and support each other, by finding and adapting to fast local solutions."

Wizkit has placed their disinfection chambers across various hospitals and factories and is looking forward to installing them in banks and locations with high foot traffic. The chambers, besides Dhaka, have been shipped to different locations in Khulna, Rangpur, and Mymensingh. They are producing new chambers regularly to keep up with the demand and their research and development team is working on improving the efficiency of the chambers.

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