Community outreach updates

May 12, 2020

We hope that everyone in the Wayne State University community continues to stay safe and practice responsible citizenship as Michigan and other states begin to reopen. We would also love to hear about your contributions during the COVID-19 crisis and encourage you to contact the students, faculty and alumni mentioned in previous messages to lend your support.

  • Mechanical engineering graduate students Ajay Bhagavatam and Husam Alrehaili have continued working on the college's 3D printing PPE project, and are shifting gears to produce touchless door openers. They started with an open-source design and refined it to improve its function on doors in the engineering buildings. The door opener also has a pointer that allows it to be used to push buttons on keypads. To date, Bhagavatam and Alrehaili have produced more than 2,000 units. This week, they boxed up 500 units to be used by Facilities Planning and Management staff that are preparing campus for reopening after the stay-at-home order is lifted. The students also delivered 50 3D-printed face shields to the Detroit Salvation Army.

  • With the COVID-19 pandemic putting life as we knew it on hold, many Wayne State researchers are aggressively shifting their focus to addressing the virus. Researchers across campus have proposed more than 60 research projects to detect, prevent, treat and recover from COVID-19. Several of those proposals have already been submitted to federal agencies and other funding organizations for consideration. Among the projects being led by College of Engineering faculty are:

    Yaoxian Huang, assistant professor, civil and environmental engineering
    Title: Exploring the linkage between air pollution exposure and COVID-19 over Metro Detroit
    Description: Investigating air pollution exposure as a possible risk factor for COVID-19 incidences and deaths over Metro Detroit through observations and modeling.

    Ulrike Klueh, associate professor, biomedical engineering
    Marianna Sadagurski, professor, biological sciences

    Title: Attenuation of COVID-19 associated cytokine storm
    Description: Cytokine storm underlies the multiple organ failure associated with severe COVID-19 infections. This study will assess the efficacy of an FDA approved pharmacological agent's ability to mitigate this cascade in the preclinical murine model.

    Leslie Monplaisir, professor, industrial and systems engineering
    Title: Medical Surge Capability: Performance Evaluation of Hospital Emergency Department
    Description: A framework to improve the emergency department's performance and resource utilization under medical surge (i.e., pandemic) by implementing a data-driven simulation and optimization modeling approach.

    Dongziao Zhu, associate professor, computer science (two projects)
    Title: COVIDRiskNearMe: A crowdsourcing web-portal for COVID-19 risk self-assessment and geomapping risk stratification
    Description: A crowd sourcing web portal to allow self-assessment of COVID-19 risks via questionnaire and display aggregated risk stratification counts on the map.

    Title: COVID-MobileXpert: On-Device COVID-19 Screening using Snapshots of Chest X-Ray
    Description: A lightweight deep neural network based mobile app that can use noisy snapshots of chest X-ray for point-of-care COVID-19 screening.

    Weisong Shi, professor, computer science
    Title: CORPUS: An Edge Intelligence-Assisted Multi-Granularity COVID-19 Risk Predication and Update System
    Description: A risk prediction and update system that aims to (1) reduce the anxiety for people and organizations; (2) assess the spread risk of COVID-19; (3) provide prevention strategy at the first time.

May 5, 2020

  • Advaita Bioinformatics, an Ann Arbor-based company spun out of Wayne State University, announced that it has identified methylprednisolone, a generic FDA-approved corticosteroid typically used to treat inflammation and other common ailments, as a drug that can improve outcomes for patients critically ill with COVID-19. To confirm the drug's efficacy, an independent study led by Dr. Mayur S. Ramesh, an infectious disease specialist at Henry Ford Health System, showed that more than 200 patients given a short course of methylprednisolone responded well, with significantly reduced transfers to intensive care, requirements for ventilation and deaths. Sorin Draghici, founder of Advaita and professor of computer science and associate dean for innovation and entrepreneurship in the College of Engineering, noted that the company is continuing to use its patented AI software to identify other effective drugs and are seeking additional clinical partners to demonstrate their validity.

  • For their final project in the CSC 4992 course, students are tasked with programming a drone to complete a short flying mission. The original plan was to run 25 student missions in the Multipurpose Indoor Facility on the athletic campus.  Due to the campus shutdown, Dan Ouellette, a lecturer in the Department of Computer Science, flew the missions in his backyard so his students could successfully complete the class. Money to purchase the drone came from a Wayne State educational grant.

    Dan Ouellette

April 28, 2020

  • Kyyba Innovations, a Farmington Hills-based tech company founded by alumnus Tel Ganesan, MSME '91, is launching an app called weTrace that is designed to help municipalities across the U.S. reduce the spread of COVID-19. App users answer questions about their symptoms and check in daily to update, providing data that, when consolidated with information from online dashboards and hotlines operated by local health leaders, provides a real-time picture of COVID-19 hot spots and people particularly at risk.

  • Students that have generated close to 1,000 face shields over the last couple of weeks for distribution to various area health centers are starting to reallocate 3D printing resources on campus to produce door openers. Adapting an open-source design, these units can be used to open doors and interact with keypads without having to physically touch such surfaces. The team can produce an estimated 1,500 per week and has already printed 400 units.

    Wayne State students are producing door openers using 3D printers

April 21, 2020

  • To support Wayne State University students affected by the current health crisis, the College of Engineering is partnering with Tata Technologies to provide free access to Tata's online learning solution i GET IT. This platform allows students to learn new manufacturing CAD and PLM skills online, anywhere, anytime, at their own pace. Students will have access to over 1,200 courses for Autodesk, Dassault Systèmes, PTC and Siemens PLM products, as well as related industry skills. i GET IT will be available through June 2020.
  • Gary Geller, BSEE '70, has been using his home 3D printer to create masks based on a design available online. In addition to the printed plastic parts, the masks include filter material made from an air conditioner filter, as well as a rubber band to hold the mask in place and a gasket (weather stripping) to provide a better seal between the mask and the face. He has been able to produce up to 30 masks per week, and each mask can eliminate the need for 90 disposable masks per month. Geller is connecting with Wayne State faculty and students that have been producing 3D-printed PPE to share best practices for scaling up mask production. Before retiring in California, Geller was the president and founder of Lasertron, a Florida-based manufacturer of stainless steel cabinets for indoor and outdoor kitchens.

    Gary Geller

  • The 3D printing efforts on campus have generated approximately 800 face shields that have been distributed to such hospitals as McLaren, DMC, Campus Health Center and Beaumont Dearborn (pictured below). Donations have also been made to the Wayne State mobile COVID testing site and to The Bay at Elmwood, a nursing home and rehabilitation center in Detroit. While leading the charge to keep printers running around the clock, mechanical engineering Ph.D. student Pawan Vedanti also successfully defended his doctoral dissertation last week.

    Beaumont Oakwood Dearborn

  • Sean Carroll, BSChE '14, MSBME '17, continues to raise money and recruit more help in 3D-printing face and eye shields for health care workers. He has been able to donate hundreds of PPE units, and last week secured a $2,500 grant from the Desai Sethi Foundation.

April 14, 2020

  • A research group led by Dongxiao Zhu, associate professor of computer science, is developing a novel AI-powered COVID-19 screening tool called COVID-Xpert that allows medical personnel to use X-ray chest radiography features to discern between features of normal, pneumonia and COVID-19 scans. This offers promise for a more rapid, accurate and inexpensive population screenings at urgent care or mobile testing centers. More information on this project will be available at in the coming days.
  • Arash Faryami, a first-year biomedical engineering Ph.D. student, has been working on an open source ventilator that, while not intended to replace resources and care provided by health care professionals, can be effective in increasing the capacity of medical centers and providing more tools for effective at-home care to patients. Most of its components are either repurposed from commonly available supplies or have been produced using 3D printing technology. The device manipulates hydrostatic pressure in interconnected water containers, as the flow of water from one container to another allows the displacement of air which is conducted through a series of tubes and one-way check valves.
  • Sean Carroll, BSChE '14, MSBME '17, started a GoFundMe to raise money in support of his efforts to 3D print face and eye shields for health care workers. He exceeded his goal of $2,000 in just three days, and has produced more than 500 units for distribution local hospitals such as Beaumont, Karmanos and DMC. Carroll is a research assistant in the School of Medicine and a co-founder of EnBiologics, a biotechnology and veterinary medicine company.
  • Shanshan Qiu, Ph.D. ISE '14, representing the Michigan Chinese American Coalition and the Ford Chinese Association, donated 600 medical masks to Children's Clinic of Michigan in Hamtramck and 400 to Greenfield Family Practice in Detroit last week. Qiu, an analytics scientist supervisor at Ford Motor Company, and others in her community are actively seeking more masks from overseas to help local citizens.
  • Eliezer Kotapuri, a Ph.D. student in the Global Executive Track program, is the chief clinical technology officer at Mass Technologies, a health care consulting company that provides clinical engineering programs and helps medical facilities improve processes, procedures and technology use. Mass Technologies is working with its clients to get closed hospital spaces open and ready for an influx of patients. Attempting to do the equivalent of one year's work in three weeks, the organization is working on reopening a 142-patient facility on the East coast.

Please let us know how you are fighting back against COVID-19 or reach out to those listed here or in our previous updates to see if they need help.

April 7, 2020

Engineers are problem solvers, and the COVID-19 crisis is one of the biggest problems any of us will ever face. The College of Engineering's response to this worldwide health threat is one of which we should all be proud. Whether it's making PPE for front line medical personnel, expanding virtual learning opportunities for our students or adding to our knowledge base about this virus — all efforts large and small should be celebrated.

Here are some of the latest activities ongoing in the College of Engineering. Please let us know if you would like to share your story (community outreach, virtual learning, research, etc.) or reach out to those listed here to see if they need help.

If nothing else, please continue practicing responsible citizenship with proper hygiene and social distancing. The next few weeks will be critical to getting us on the downslope of the curve. Stay #WarriorStrong.

  • A group of students, led by first-year student Nicholas Kerner and mechanical engineering graduate student Pawan Vedanti, are working diligently on using the college's 3D printing capabilities to produce face shields in response to a shortage of PPE for doctors, nurses and volunteers treating COVID-19 patients. Kerner began producing these materials in his home before partnering with the college to expand the operation. The group — which also includes Carlos MartinezHusam Alrehaili and Ajay Bhagavatam — is generating approximately 100 units per day at a cost of less than $1.40 per face shield. The college wishes to also acknowledge Jeff Potoff for coordinating these efforts, Andy Murrell and Amar Basu for logistical assistance, and the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts for its help in securing supplies. More information on this project will be available at in the coming days.

3D printed face shields 3D printed face shields

  • Sorin Draghici, professor of computer science and associate dean for innovation and entrepreneurship, launched a crowd-sourcing initiative through his company, Advaita Bioinformatics, to involve scientists in a community effort to fight COVID-19. His group is analyzing data sets from researchers around the globe to better understand the mechanisms of COVID-19 and try to identify existing drugs that could be repurposed to treat the disease. A recently published paper, with results from investigators in Germany and Spain, is an example of the company's worldwide collaboration efforts. AdvaitaBio will continue to provide software and consultancy work free of charge during this crisis.
  • Civil engineering student Kristy Thullen is making face masks at home for several of her friends who work in health care, including nurses at Oakwood Beaumont in Dearborn who are also graduates of Wayne State University.
  • Heinz Plaumann, an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, hosted a three-hour leadership training session via Zoom on Saturday, March 28. Engineering student organization presidents and others in leadership roles were in attendance. Plaumann, CEO and co-founder of Quantum Qik Careers, provided insight on how student organizations can continue to grow and operate effectively, generating greater overall student engagement. Thanks to chemical engineering student Olivia Cali for her help in setting up this event.
  • Mohamad Hassoun, professor of electrical and computer engineering, played a key role in preparing engineering faculty for the transition to a virtual classroom environment. On March 19, he hosted an online workshop called "Synchronous Online Teaching using Canvas Conferences." Nearly 20 faculty joined the live presentation and many more viewed the video version.

    March 31, 2020

  • Shawn McElmurry cleared out his lab and was able to donate seven cases of gloves and a couple dozen N95 masks from his lab to a local hospital. In addition, one of his Ph.D. students (Audrey Zarb) was sewing CDC-compliant masks and taking requests on her Facebook page — donations were being made to a pediatrician's office in Lansing and a dietitian's office at Cleveland Clinic.
  • Mustafa Ahmed, a senior computer science student, and his business partner developed a website called Detroit Help Hub for small businesses in the city of Detroit to share how people can help (donations, gift card purchases, etc.), and to inform customers of changes and updates. Read more at
  • Jasmine Roberson, director of community engagement for the College of Engineering, is sending out a list of virtual volunteering opportunities (e.g. Engineers Without Borders, DPSCD, C2 Pipeline) to the college community. She is also working with the admissions office to place educational links on with resources for families.
  • Cindy Bir spearheaded an effort in the Department of Biomedical Engineering to gather PPE supplies and donate them to a hospital in need.
  • Faculty in the College of Engineering are supporting Dr. Phil Levy's effort in the Movid (mobile covid) team to assemble test kits. Please contact Uli Klueh if you have any of these supplies available for donation:
    • 1 case each individually sterile wrapped pipets (both 10 and 25 ml)
    • 5 Pipet bulbs
    • 2000 sterile 15 ml centrifuge tubes
    • 2000 15ml tube labels
    • 0.20 to 0.45 micron filter assembly (just in case)
    • 13 bottles 500ml each Hanks Balanced Salt Solution (HBSS)
    • 50ml Amphotericin B
    • 50ml Gentamicin
    • One 500ml bottle fetal bovine serum
    • 13 sheep blood agar plates
    • 70% ETOH spray bottle