NASA taps its workforce to help brainstorm innovative ideas in the fight against COVID-19

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been actively contributing in the fight against COVID-19. In the past few weeks, the agency has lent its supercomputers to advance research for developing a vaccine for the pandemic. Likewise, it has also been playing its part in creating a new machine-readable dataset for COVID-19.

Continuing the efforts, NASA has now launched an agency-wide call for ideas and is asking its workforce to brainstorm ways that it can best contribute to COVID-19 response efforts. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said:

“I’ve heard from employees across the agency who want to help the nation combat COVID-19. These comments exemplify the prevailing, can-do spirit of NASA people and our willingness to take on any challenge. As the nation comes together to confront this crisis, we must look at every opportunity for NASA to lend a hand and increase our contribution to America’s response.”

NASA informed its employees via NASA@WORK, which is the company's internal crowdsourcing platform allowing employees to come together and solve challenges. With this opportunity, the agency is primarily looking for ideas in the following areas:

  • Novel approaches to enable rapid, effective personal protective equipment; the proposed solutions must be robust, effective, and quick.
  • Rapid design and prototyping of innovative ventilation devices with a focus on systems and simple interfaces that can be rapidly produced.
  • Forecasting COVID-19’s spread and its impacts on society and Earth; the effects can include but are not limited to environmental, economic and societal impacts.
  • Other areas, including telemedicine, digital assistants, telerobotics, non-contacting diagnostic sensors, and applications of human space exploration lessons learned in dealing with social isolation and blended work/home environments.

Detailed information about each of these points can be found here. Given the time constraints in the fight against this pandemic, NASA says that ideas for initial consideration should be submitted by April 15. Out of the submitted ones, the agency will help deploy effective and tangible solutions. Further, new designs resulting from the call to action will be open-sourced as much as possible.

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