Student-designed neonatal ventilator wins two more prestigious awards

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News

From left: Stephen John and Joseph Barnett

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—NeoVent, a low-cost neonatal ventilator designed by Western Michigan University students, has been chosen as the first-place winner in the 2015 BMEStart competition for undergraduate biomedical and bioengineering students. With this latest win for their invention, Joseph Barnett and Stephen John earned a $10,000 cash prize. The two will be honored at the 2015 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida, this fall.

Their invention also was recently named the U.S. National Winner of the 2015 James Dyson Award, besting runner-up inventions from the likes of Stanford University, Clemson University and the University of Houston.

The Dyson award competition saw a record number of entries, with 690 entered designs worldwide.

NeoVent will receive $3,500 from the James Dyson Foundation and progress to the international stage of the award, where it will be in the running for a $45,000 international prize and $7,500 departmental prize.

The World Health Organization lists respiratory problems as one of the leading causes of death among children under the age of five. NeoVent enables healthcare workers around the world to deliver safe, low-cost, low-energy, and easy-to-use noninvasive positive pressure ventilation to treat premature infants in respiratory distress.

About NeoVent

The winning design by John and Barnett was inspired by the designers' experience working in Central America, the Middle East, and Asia—with a focus on health disparities in Nepal. Globally, an estimated one million babies born die each year due to prematurity and respiratory problems. John and Barnett realized the need for affordable medical equipment to address this issue, particularly in developing countries. NeoVent is their solution.

Latest in a string of accolades

This is just the latest award bestowed upon NeoVent. The invention recently won the $10,000 Lemelson-MIT National Collegiate Student Prize Competition as well as the Brian Patrick Thomas Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, a WMU accolade that also carried a $10,000 cash prize.

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