At the height of the corona crisis, clinical technology students were designing a ventilator. But when the design was finished, it was not needed anymore. What was that like?
Minister Wiebes visits Operation Air. (Video still)

At the height of the corona crisis, clinical technology students were designing a ventilator. But when the design was finished, it was not needed anymore. What was that like?

TU Delft TV documentary Operation AIR - a respirator built by students, 9:10 min.

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For the last five years, TU Delft TV has shown us TU Delft research in short films. This time the students and video makers, Ward Dijkman and Roel Breure, took more time than usual to follow the story behind Operation Air. Operation Air, Prof. Jaap Harlaar’s (3mE) initiative in which students built ventilators, attracted a lot of attention in the media. "We are really going to make a difference," Harlaar promises at the beginning of the documentary.

At the height of the Covid-19 outbreak, students were feeling the pressure of the increasing need for ventilators in ICs, and the hope that was placed in them. "We are doing our best, but we don't have the Holy Grail either," one of them says almost apologetically.

And then, the minute production started, they are not needed anymore. The ICs were slowly emptying and of the 500 devices ordered, only a handful were needed. One of the students had to inform suppliers accordingly. "That was a tough call," she remembers.

However, this huge anti-climax is not the end of the story. There is still the accumulated knowledge and the design drawings that are available open source. And the project has given the students a boost in self-confidence. "As we worked towards our goal as a team, we achieved a lot more than I had initially expected," one of them says.

Initiator Jaap Harlaar is by no means disappointed and he looks back with satisfaction at the adventure. "Boys, girls, it was a great experience that we will never forget throughout our lives."

Thanks to the patience and dedication of the first documentary makers of TU Delft TV, you can share this experience.