LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - As the number of COVID-19 patients continues to increase across the South Plains, many people at home are doing all they can to find ways to stop the spread. Many times, that includes making homemade masks, either from scarves, or something as simple as a shop towel.
However, for 17-year-old Mark Dannemiller, it wasn’t enough for him to work to stop the spread, he wanted to help those already infected.
So, he did that through the best way he knew how, through engineering.
“He decided instead of sitting at home and playing X-box and play station, that he would do this, ” said parents Mark and Sandra Dannemiller. And “this” was no small task.
After an assigned project by his engineering teacher and robotics team coach amid distance learning, Dannemiller was determined to figure out a way to help those suffering from the virus. He found an online prototype of a ventilator and made a few improvements in order to make it a respirator for patients.
"His idea behind this was: let’s see if we can create this with the material that we create our robots with and then share it globally so that all the other teams could possibly create a couple of these prototype respirator, ventilator machines and get them out to the medical field of wherever their local entities are,” said James Holloway, Mark’s teacher and coach.
While to some it may seem like a big goal for a young man, Mark says not only is the idea behind it simple, but it is also allowing robotics teams across the country to step up during this time of need.
“We compete during the season, we help each other out. But, this is an opportunity to help each other out like none before,” said Dannemiller.
Mark says in addition to the partnership with other robotics teams across the country, he says he’s grateful for the relationships and partnerships he’s built with students at Texas Tech’s Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering, of which his father, Joseph, is the Assistant Academic Dean.
“My favorite part about this whole thing is all the collaboration between engineering at Texas Tech, engineering at high schools and engineering on the professional level with all the manufacturers that have reached out to us,“ added Mark.
Mark says that he is currently in talks with several local medical facilities to in order to provide them with the final product, once the current iteration has been approved. He says he’s hopeful that with how quickly all of the collaboration is coming together, the respirator could be available locally within a month.
Mark’s teacher, James Holloway says this innovation is exactly what the world needs right now, "He’s really what Frenship is about and he’s really what our future is about.”