CITRIS Invention Lab and Jacobs Institute Begin Support for COVID-19 Related Research

CITRIS Invention Lab and Jacobs Institute Begin Support for COVID-19 Related Research

Starting March 30, 2020, with approval from the office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, the CITRIS Invention Lab and Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation has begun to provide targeted prototyping support for UC Berkeley researchers who are working on projects that address the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the COVID-19 prototyping program, researchers can consult remotely with our professional staff, submit files for fabrication, and later pick up completed parts. To maintain appropriate social distancing and staff safety, researchers cannot directly work in the makerspaces. Only a limited number of staff will be available for physical fabrication.

Projects will be prioritized according to the following guidelines:

  • Service is only available to support COVID-19 related research undertaken by UC Berkeley researchers. We currently do not have the authorization to support any other types of research, instructional projects, or projects by non-affiliated researchers in our makerspaces.
  • Our makerspaces are focused on prototyping and are not currently suitable for large scale production.
  • For parts with expected use in medical settings, we expect researchers to show existing engagement with, and support from, relevant medical professionals and/or researchers.

A fabrication request takes two steps:

  1. Researchers first sign up for remote office hours with our staff to discuss the suitability and feasibility of their request.
  2. If the project fits our program, researchers will be directed to a project intake form to upload files and track the project through different stages.

The CITRIS Invention Lab and Jacobs Institute are resources for creative innovation and we invite research projects across a range of disciplines to participate.

One emerging topic of interest is around repurposing makerspaces for the fabrication of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical equipment at scale. Our immediate focus is on collecting and donating existing, approved PPE and we urge you to participate. For campus labs, please use the “UC Berkeley PPE Supplies Donation Survey” form. For personal supplies, you can consult or KQED’s list of Bay Area donation sites.

There are many open questions around producing PPE in makerspaces, including quality control, testing, efficacy, and safety. Using makerspaces for this purpose could generate situations wherein unnecessary additional risk is generated. Until appropriate campus review and approval procedures are in place, the Jacobs Institute and CITRIS Invention Lab cannot serve as production sites for parts intended directly for clinical settings. However, we look forward to immediately supporting prototyping and proof-of-concept research projects, including those aimed at using other manufacturing processes or manufacturing partners down the line; and scientific projects that seek to answer open questions to arrive at designs that can be approved for medical use.

Beyond medical applications, we welcome a variety of project proposals that can show how the fabrication resources in Jacobs Hall could enable, amplify or accelerate important COVID-19 research in any discipline.

We look forward to working with you to bring our collective energy to addressing the many challenges posed by COVID-19.

Bjoern Hartmann, Faculty Director, Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation
Joey Gottbrath, Technical Lab Director, Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation
Eric Paulos, Faculty Director, CITRIS Invention Lab