By Indiana State University
May 15, 2020
Two Sycamores are playing vital roles in the fight against the coronavirus through their employment at Airtech, Inc.
A leading global designer and manufacturer of vacuum pumps, blowers and vacuum and compressor systems, Airtech, Inc. was established in 1982 and is a privately held company with corporate headquarters in Rutherford, New Jersey and manufacturing and engineering design facilities based in the U.S., Germany and Asia.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Thomas Stergioulas, GR’09, engineering manager at Airtech, Inc. the demand for medical ventilators increased drastically and Airtech assisted with the supply of a key component for medical ventilators.
“Airtech has a long history and deep expertise of developing and manufacturing medical equipment solutions,” said Stergioulas, who is a graduate of State’s Master of Science in industrial and mechanical technology program. “Airtech’s small, DC variable-speed blowers, which are fully manufactured in our state-of-the-art New Jersey production facilities, are ideal for ventilators being used to assist some COVID-19 patients with breathing.”
Due to the recent high demand of ventilators due to the COVID-19 virus, Airtech had to increase the machining and assembling capacity by 300 percent in a matter of weeks.
“While one Airtech team was setting up production to be able to meet this high demand another team was able to develop medical equipment to treat COVID19 Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome,” Stergioulas said. “Based on its long history of developing solutions for precisely controlling the movement of medical gases, Airtech’s Advanced Custom Engineering team was approached to co-develop a Nitric Oxide dosing machine.”
After the system was fully designed, manufactured and thoroughly tested in under a week, two team members loaded it into a vehicle for the 1,800 mile drive from Rutherford, N.J., to a leading Louisiana medical center, and remained on site to support evaluation over the ensuing weekend.
The approval by an Institutional Review Board was expedited, so that the solution will be going into human trials within days. If this treatment proves successful, it could save lives of patients and afford additional protection to healthcare workers.
Indiana State student and Airtech, Inc. intern Moammer Efenti is also working on the frontlines of the project, operating different computer numerical control machines and coordinating the measuring machines to ensure the parts are conforming to specifications.
“His passion and eagerness to learn plays a vital role on this project. With the guidance of senior engineers and machinists, he is doing an excellent job by fulfilling all the tasks and projects that are assigned to him in a very timely manner,” Stergioulas said. “Personally, I believe that this will prepare him for the real world and it will provide him the hands on experience that he needs as a future engineer to tackle any project.”
Efenti, a native of Greece and senior in the mechanical engineering technology program, is working on machining the parts with the CNC machines and inspecting them with CMM and manually to make sure the parts we machine are exactly what is wanted and are on tolerance as they are designed to keep the quality as good as always.
“So far, what l had experienced is priceless and unbelievable, partly because we are racing against time and it is not easy to do. We have limited time but long way to go and everything happens very quickly, so I try to write down things and remember all what I was told to do,” he said.
Efenti gives all the credits to my instructors who have prepared him for the challenges of this internship.
“They prepare us for the real world and l can say that because the world hasn’t been this real in a long time. In this hard time, what I am doing is very important to our community and I am able to be a part of it,” he said.
Todd Alberts, senior Instructor of mechanical engineering technology and mechanical engineering technology program coordinator with State’s College of Technology, said State’s program stressed ‘real world aspects’ of design, engineering, and manufacturing as it relates to their academic studies.
“Anyone can read a textbook or follow a PowerPoint presentation, but when you dive into the real application of the subject matter, those teachings and discussions are directly related to the various situations and requirements that our students are going to face daily on the job on after graduation,” he said. “We continually talk about ‘solving problems and adding value’, and now Moammer gets a chance to experience that first hand and is making important connections between his school work and his Engineering Intern responsibilities at Airtech this summer.
“These are connections that are difficult to replicate in the classroom, which is why internship experiences are so valuable to our students, and why we thank Thomas so much for allowing us this opportunity to host and support one of our students. And to be doing this in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic makes this an even more special scenario for Moammer.”
The biggest impact the internship has had on Efenti is the race against time and finding solutions as quick as possible.
“Multitasking has never been this challenging to me before. The teamwork is one of the best things that help to keep up with the high bit we all try to give more and as much as we can to make sure we hit the target we have,” he said. “We come in the morning, leave late at night and everyone knows how important it is to do what we are doing. You will be surprised seen the COO helping in the production line and the supervisors helping the production line as an operator or inspecting the parts helping as much as they can. We are all together in this and here we all know how important that is.”