Justin Boutilier, an assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has secured a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to support his team’s work on an automated online platform that matches manufacturers of medical face shields with healthcare organizations in need of the personal protective equipment (PPE).
The one-year, $100,000 grant is through NSF’s Rapid Response Research (RAPID) program, which the agency is using to fund timely projects related to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid a shortage in PPE and medical equipment, pop-up supply chains have emerged around the world to produce critical supplies. A network of manufacturers have retooled their production lines to churn out face shields using the Badger Shield design created by the Grainger Engineering Design Innovation Lab and local industry partners Delve and Midwest Prototyping.
Boutilier’s project, a collaboration with University of California, Los Angeles assistant professor Auyon Siddiq and UW-Madison biomedical engineering graduate student Rebecca Alcock, stems from the Badger Shield effort.
The researchers plan to use the NSF grant to collect data on the manufacturers, purchasing healthcare organizations and other buyers, and the overall performance of their platform. Their results could inform how such pop-up supply chains are used in future pandemics or other emergencies that create supply shortages.
Author: Tom Ziemer