Mechanical engineering's COVID-19 research efforts

Faculty and researchers in Mechanical Engineering are making substantial contributions to the pandemic efforts.

Andre McDonald with Robyn Braun - 06 April 2020

The Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta is working with industry partners and government agencies to conduct innovative research to prevent and slow the transmission and spread of COVID-19 and to mitigates the effects of the disease. Our goal is to develop and improve technologies that contribute to the health and safety of Canadians.

Mechanical Engineering Professor and Ernest and Gertrude Poole Chair of Management for Engineers, Dr. Mike Lipsett, is the University of Alberta's point-contact with Alberta Health Services, coordinating short-term pandemic response efforts, such as the production of ventilators, and efforts to protect ICU doctors and staff. Professor Lipsett also leads two innovation teams producing a version of the Mechanical Ventilator Milano that can be produced entirely by Alberta companies and suppliers. (Contact:

Distinguished Professor Warren Finlay, together with Professors Reinhard Vehring, Andrew Martin, and Jason Olfert, are providing design guidance and filtration testing for the mass production of high-efficiency made-in-Alberta masks for protection against viral transmission. (Contact:

Professors Lexuan Zhong and Brian Fleck are developing improved HVAC systems to reduce the incidence of human-generated airborne COVID-19 transmission (ACT) in public spaces, reducing morbidity and mortality and minimizing economic impact. Meanwhile, Professor Mahdi Shahbakhti will model building air flow and develop air quality controls to minimize transmission of the virus in department stores. (Contact: and

Manufacturing expert, Professor Ahmed Qureshi, and robotics expert and Electrical Engineering Professor Mahdi Tavakoli, are devising robotic human-machine systems for remote intensive care unit (ICU) operations, enabling medical practitioners to work safely and effectively. (Contact:

Professor Rafiq Ahmad, a design and manufacturing expert, and Professor Mike Lipsett, reliability and modeling expert, are designing and prototyping personal mechanical respirators for frontline healthcare workers in intensive care facilities. They are using 3D printing, machining, and mass production strategies to fabricate safe, robust, and made-in-Canada respirators. (Contact: and

Meanwhile, Professor Dan Sameoto is developing methods to rapidly produce 3D-printed masks with high resiliency. Professor Cagri Ayranci can use additive manufacturing, electrospinning and melt electrospinning to fabricate functionalized respirator masks, such as N95. (Contact: and

MEMS sensory expert, Professor Walied Moussa, has engaged companies to embed and package sensor technology into 3D-printed mobile ventilators, accelerating the production of equipment that the Canadian health care system desperately needs. (Contact:

Professor Hossein Rouhani and Dr. Rashid Mirzavand are developing wearable wireless sensor systems to enable electronic tracking of physical distancing in hospitals, nursing homes, or the workplace, while allowing healthcare workers to check patients with sensors. (Contact: and

We are inspired by these contributions and excited for the next generation of rapid solutions that we are currently developing. We welcome your input and support as we work together to prevent and slow the transmission of COVID-19 and to mitigate its effects on our health, our healthcare systems and our healthcare workers. We invite you to contact us.