Duquesne University Students Virtually Design Longer-Lasting N95 Masks

As the need for N95 face masks increases due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Duquesne University students teamed up to virtually design a reusable mask that may last longer than current models.

In a matter of five days, the six students created virtual designs for an N95 mask with replaceable filters that could significantly extend the life and number of uses per mask.

The project came about as part of the student-run Johns Hopkins Center for Bioengineering and Design's (CBD) COVID-19 Virtual Design Challenge, which invited students from across the country to focus on developing innovative solutions that limit the transmission and impact of the coronavirus. CBD is now sharing some of the students' designs with companies that manufacture N95 masks.

"It was a very rewarding experience," said Garett Craig, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering. "The process moved very quickly and we worked well together, meeting via ZOOM and other technologies. It was great to work on such a challenging project that could be implemented in the healthcare field and meet an important need." 

The Duquesne design features a removable cartridge around the mask's mouth area, explained Nina Dorfner, a junior biomedical engineering major. Cartridges can easily be switched when the material becomes too saturated from breathing or contaminated when treating multiple patients. The team estimates that 4-5 cartridges could be used in one existing N95 respirator, significantly extending the mask's life.  

Photo of mask design

In addition to Craig and Dorfner, the student team included junior Tori Kocsis, junior Justin Cook, junior Jordan Hoydick and senior Frank Guarinoni. Duquesne biomedical engineering professors Dr. John Viator, Dr. Kimberly Williams, Dr. Rana Zakerzadeh, Dr. Bin Yang and Dr. Melikhan Tanyeri provided counsel on the project. 

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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