2021 STA Annual Meeting Engineering Challenge - Active Moisture Elimination



CLICK HERE to submit!


The Engineering Challenge is a regular feature of the Annual Meeting and will be held virtually on Friday, January 15, 2021. As always, the intent of the Challenge is to educate the membership on an area of technology.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the increased use of novel ventilation solutions. A problem associated with prolonged ventilation is managing humidity. While passive heat and moisture exchange devices, or active humidifiers, provide adequate inspired humidity, water that is presumably laden with virus accumulates in the expiratory path and must be managed by healthcare workers. Thermoelectric cooling devices employ the Peltier effect to create a temperature gradient across a diode. These devices are commonly found in a number of applications requiring cooling, including semiconductors, satellites, and beer coolers. Deliquescence is a property of solids that permits the absorption of water vapor from the gaseous phase. While typically passive (the packets in medicine bottles), active elements have been described. There may be other approaches to solve this problem. The 2021 Engineering Challenge is to develop a device that can maintain a humidity gradient between the patient side and the ventilator side of a breathing circuit.

The guidelines:

1) A healthy subject should be able to breathe through the device.

2) The device should not turn into a molten slab of plastic during the presentation.

3) The humidity gradient should be demonstrated.

The rules:

1) At least one member of the team should be a trainee – student, resident, fellow, etc.

2) Presentations will be submitted as a 6-minute pre-recorded video, emailed to the STA office at aubrey@stahq.org. Only presentations submitted before Friday, January 1st will be included in the program.

3) A member of the presenter team needs to be available to answer questions from the audience during a 30-minute interactive session, which will be implemented as breakout rooms using the Zoom videoconferencing platform during the 2021 virtual STA Annual Meeting, held on Friday, January 15th, 2021.

STA will provide up to $400 to defray the cost of hardware. Please submit the receipt for your hardware to Marie Odden. There is a limited amount of time for the session, and we reserve the right to limit the number of presenters. Only teams who present their project are eligible for reimbursement.



Jeff E Mandel, MD, MS

Past Participants

2020 Engineering Challenge Participants

Christopher Connor, MD, PhD, Brigham and Women's Hospital

Austin Culp, Pennsylvania State University

Eileen Petros, Case Western Reserve University 

Kevin Wang, MD, MSc

2019 Engineering Challenge Participants

Deepak Agarwal, DO, MPH, Cleveland Clinic

Michael Burns, MD, PhD, University of Michigan

Christopher Connor, MD, PhD, Brigham and Women's Hospital

Angad Kalra, BSc, MSc, University of Toronto

David Robinowitz, MD, MHS, MS, University of California San Francisco

2018 Engineering Challenge Participants:

Priya Ramaswamy, MD, M Eng, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Deepak Agarwal, DO, MPH, Cleveland Clinic

Mark Korenke, MD, University of Michigan

Giuseppe Grossi, B Eng, Sickkids Hospital

2017 Engineering Challenge Participants:

Rami Saab, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto

Nirav Bhasar, MD, University of Miami

Elie Sarraf, MDCM, B Eng, University of Vermont

Ryan Durk, MD, Washington University, Saint Louis

Krithika Anand, MD, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

2016 Engineering Challenge Winner:

Ali Jalali, MD, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

2015 Engineering Challenge Winner:

Hassanpour Ali, MD, Temple University

2014 Engineering Challenge Winners:

  • First Place: Nicholas McGill, University of Pennsylvania
  • Second Place: Ryan Durk, Washington University Saint Louis
  • Third Place: Goeto Dantes, University of Florida