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LTU Science & Technology Showcase panel lauds business, healthcare response to COVID

Release Date: April 29, 2021

SOUTHFIELD—Lawrence Technological University students showed off their life sciences expertise, and a panel discussion praised the Michigan healthcare system, business and government for resilience during the pandemic, in LTU’s fourth Science and Technology Showcase, produced online Wednesday with Oakland County.

Moderated by Jaideep Rajput, director of commercialization at Beaumont Health, the panel gave example after example of Michigan businesses quickly pivoting to produce badly needed personal protective equipment (PPE) at the outset of the pandemic in the early spring of 2020.

Brianna Riley, manager of the Henry Ford Health System Innovation Institute, which provides assistance to would-be healthcare technology makers, said she “paused all projects at the outset of the pandemic, went to the front-liners, and asked, ‘OK, what do you need?’” She said HFHS partnered with companies as large as the Detroit Three to small mom-and-pop businesses on PPE—shields, masks, gowns, and more. “It was our job to prototype and test,” she said. “We vetted over 450 different prototypes within three months.”

Rajput said he saw companies quickly move to making medical devices, from a sporting goods manufacturer making body bags to an embroidery company making masks.

Speaking of those companies, as well as healthcare workers, Therese Jamison, director of LTU’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, noted that “there were so many occasions of people just rising—rising to what needed to be done, no matter what it was. I have never been prouder” of the people in healthcare. “We were building the airplane while we were flying it,” she said. “Have we learned an immense amount? Yes.”

Fred Molnar, vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation for the Michigan Economic Development Corp., noted that the state quickly moved in with grants to help businesses produce materials to fight the coronavirus.

The LTU student presentations, meanwhile, covered a wide variety of life sciences research topics. Included were using a 3D printer to produce a clear mask that allows others to see the wearer’s facial expression, a vaccine delivery chamber to store COVID-19 vaccines at cold temperatures, an e-cigarette adaptor that monitors the chemicals in the e-cigarette’s vapor, using mathematics to model the spread of the coronavirus when various types of masks are used, developing a low-cost device to analyze the viscosity of fluids, and more. 

To view the student presentations on YouTube, visit https://bit.ly/3fpNSa4.

LTU and Oakland County’s Medical Main Street economic development program began holding the event in the spring of 2017. The 2020 event was canceled due to the pandemic.

Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers nearly 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 11 percent of universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.


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