Emergency Ventilator for Low Resource Areas


In response to COVID-19, this is an ongoing project where we are fabricating a portable, non-invasive, low-cost ventilator.


The device has autonomous pressure and flow regulation for patients needing emergency airway support in low resource areas to address complications from current BVM treatments by reducing mortality rates among patients with respiratory failure. 


September - Ongoing

Tools Used

Fusion 360, KeyShot, Arduino, Miro


User research/interviews, concept mapping, 3D modeling, sketching/storyboarding, pitch presentation


Nate Roblin, Claire Kenny, Mimi (Xinyi) Li, Jackie Godinez, Hannah Clausi


Designer, design consultant, user researcher


Designing for a ventilator that meets 5 criteria

1. Low-Cost

We are looking into materials that will be as inexpensive as possible without compromising durability. A current reusable bag valve mask costs around $200, so we plan for our device to be less than double that price range so around $350.

2. Portable 

Because our design needs to be portable for EMT usage, we want it to be as small as possible. A typical BVM spans around 9 inches in length, so we set the maximum length limit for our device to be 12x12x12 inches to give ourselves some leeway but we expect it be smaller once we continue our design iterations.


3. Non-invasive

We are planning to attach a noninvasive ventilation mask to our BVM since want to be able to administer breathing support immediately without the need for the patient to get sedated.


4. Ease-of-use

In an emergency situation, time is of the essence, so our design needs to be as easy to operate as possible. This is why we are adding a default settings button that will allow for a fast adjustment of pressure and volume depending on an initial estimate of the patient’s size done by the EMT. 


5. Ability to monitor pressure + flow

Our device will have a pressure sensor that measures both the pressure and volume being delivered to the patient and the pressure and volume that the patient is releasing. An Arduino/control system is connected to the sensors to process theses parameters and adjust accordingly. 


1. Preliminary Research on area of focus

The team had already established the biomedical engineering topic to focus on for our project. I chose to be apart of this specific project because I thought that ventilators are very relevant in 2020 after COVID-19. 

2. Stakeholder & Market Analysis

As part of the initial phases of this project, I took initiative to conduct stakeholder research based upon the information that had already been gathered by the rest of the engineers on the team. This involved concept mapping the purpose and function of our product to brainstorm who our main stakeholders would be.

3. Disease & Needs Statement

As part of the user researcher on the team, I led stakeholder interviews to aid our decision on which disease our product can provide a solution to that is unique to the other products on the market. We initially pursued the respiratory disease, ARDS, however, when I interviewed an ICU doctor at the Cleveland Clinic, she informed us that ARDS patients require invasive ventilators. Thus, we pivoted to designing for patients needing emergency airway support in low resource areas.

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Concept mapping

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User journey

Patricia Sketches Brainstorm.jpeg
Patricia Sketches Brainstorm 2.jpeg

Brainstorming feasible designs

Patricia Ventilator Overview.png
Patricia Mask.png

Decided design to produce

Further Iteration - Patricia.png

User journey brainstorm

Further Iteration 2 - Patricia.png.png
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Resourced online

Mechanics proposal

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Arduino schematics prototype 

(Credits to Nate)


3D rendered prototype to fabricate with plexi-glass case


Through this project, I was able to learn so much about BME through helping with ventilator research as well as interviewing the professionals in the real world. It's remarkable how much information you can learn from just by being apart of a process at times. For example, although I did not prototype the Arduino, I was able to learn the reason for components that was chosen and the functions that they will have on the final product. 

This experience helped me prepare for future collaborative projects where I learned how to collaborate with engineers and other specialists, specifically, how to determine my role in the group and how to extend my skills to contribute to a cause. I realized that it's not difficult to be familiar with something foreign as long as you are involved and communicative with the rest of the team and also that in any circumstances you have have great contributions if you are motivated to adapt and work for the team's goals.