UQ Ventilator Design Hackathon

Tue 14 Apr 2020 9:00amFri 17 Apr 2020 5:00pm



Design an ‘open source’, low-cost, simple ventilator that can serve COVID-19 patients, in an emergency timeframe.

Are you prepared to test your creativity and engineering design skills against an immediate and compelling problem?  

The School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering will be running a hackathon event in the mid-semester break. Students will work in groups to develop a concept emergency ventilator capable of sustaining COVID-19 patients in the event that clinical ventilators are not available. The groups will meet virtually to discuss and develop their design over the course of the week. Bonus credit will be given towards selected courses. Students from other disciplines, particularly medical students, are invited to participate. 


COVID-19 causes fluid build-up in the lungs, which then requires use of ventilators for the patient to have sufficient oxygen. An insufficient supply of ventilators will lead to increased mortality.


Design an ‘open source’, low-cost, simple, and easy to use and easy to build ventilator that can serve COVID-19 patients in an emergency timeframe. Designs must meet a provided specification. 

See an example design via Tech Crunch.


A hackathon is a design event in which teams collaborate on a challenge over a defined period. The hackathon will begin with a presentation that outlines the challenge and relevant background. Students will work in teams of up to six to develop a concept ventilator design. Teams will be assigned mentors to support their work for the duration of the challenge.  Relevant experts will be available to support their progress. Teams will meet virtually using Zoom. To capture great ideas and work-in-progress, teams will be encouraged to post their progress regularly. Teams will present their concept designs to a judging panel who will assess them for their efficacy as emergency ventilators and ease of manufacture. Promising concepts will be prototyped with a view to their potential use if needed.


Commencing Tuesday 14 April at 9am and ending Friday 17 April at 3pm. The event will be closed by out by presentations of designs by teams from 3pm to 5pm with the presentations made over a Zoom teleconference. You will be notified about the outcome via email during the Easter break.


Participating students are eligible for up to 10% bonus credit if they are enrolled in one of the following courses: MECH2305, MECH3600, MECH4552, METR3100, METR4201, METR7200. This bonus credit is redeemable in only one course.

Other similar initiatives

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 a growing number of organizations and universities, engineers, medical students, and hobbyists have been working on projects to produce low cost ventilators. Teams are encouraged to review outcomes from these parallel efforts, some of which are well advanced