The History of the Field Ventilator Project

The story starts on the evening of Wednesday 18th  March 2020, when the call was launched via the Worshipful Company of Engineers [WCE] for a response to the looming hospital ventilator crisis in the United Kingdom highlighted by Liveryman Professor Nachiappan Chockalingam, of Staffordshire University to the global call from Frontier Technologies Hub  for a ventilator technology that could be rapidly manufactured in response to the COVID19 pandemic. 


Through an online Design Sprint facilitated by UCL's GDI Hub and Institute of Healthcare Engineering, the different members of the Field Ventilator team were bought together, including  WCE Liveryman Brian M Back who was to ultimately become the Engineering lead and one of the co-founders of what has since been called the Field Ventilator Project. 


In the very limited time available (3-days), and after a lot of long hours, the team was able to establish a specification and to fabricate a proof of concept that illustrated that a rudimentary ventilator could be made by automating an industry standard Ambu bag, using a scavenged rear wiper motor and a machined box assembly. A short YouTube video link can be found on the Field Ventilator main page


Understandably, lacking clinical trials and a track record the design was not selected by the UK Government. However, not to be dispelled the team was re-formed with the blessing of UCL by WCE Liveryman Brian M Back and Professor Nachiappan Chockalingam with the determination that a modified and verified version of the concept model should be developed. The focus of this development would be to engineer a simple, robust, low cost design that could help tackle the impending crisis around the developing world. Further, the design would not just assist SARS-Cov-2 (Covid-19) victims but would also help treat other conditions such as Asthma, Emphysema, Pneumonia and similar respiratory diseases plus the many innocent casualties of war and violence, plus women during childbirth in the Remote & Resource Stressed Parts of the World.


On the 26th of March 2020, just one week after the initial call, the Field Ventilator Project was born  and has received since the continued support from UCL providing accelerated access to experts with engineering, legal and regulatory expertise, as well as feedback from clinicians in a range of different resource settings in UK, Kenya and India 

Professor Nachiappan Chockalingam BEng, MSc, PhD, CEng, CSci, FIPEM

Director of Centre for Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Technologies at Staffordshire University. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine. He has over 600 research outputs, including over 200 full research manuscripts and serves in the editorial panel for several scientific journals. His recent project in collaboration with the World Health Organisation and the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics supported the development of WHO Standards for Prosthetics and Orthotics Service Provision. He is involved in charitable and non-profit organisations to help the wider global community on healthy ageing and assistive technology to aid mobility. Member of the Worshipful Company of Engineers, 

Brian M Back HND BEng(Hons) CEng FIET MIoD

Founder of Radio Data Networks Limited, and Zero Pollution Network, Chairman of Environmental Innovations and part-time consultant, Brian is by Profession a Chartered Engineer,  Fellow of the IET, Freeman of the City of London, Member of the Worshipful Company of Engineers,  Corporate & Non-Ex Director, CTO. The author of Technical & Environmental articles, a trained Power Engineer, Electronics, Design & Production Engineer with a bias towards Environmental Protection, Radio & Satellite Telemetry, Rail Safety (build NW Rails rail temperature safety system 2002-2006), Healthcare Facilities Monitoring, Smart Networks (designed the Paris Smart Water Metering Network 2001-2007) and since 2010 has been the pioneer behind Europe's largest real-time data network for sewer monitoring and pollution reduction.  He also plays an active role on national and international trade bodies and standards committees.  

Dr Thomas Shannon TD PhD FIE(Aust) CPEng (Biomed)

Tom is a chartered professional engineer with over 35 years of international, commercial experience as a practising biomedical engineer, medical physicist and computer scientist with a focus on machine vision applications applied to the analysis of clinical imagery.  Tom is a co-founder of Oxford Metrics plc (LSE: OMG). Tom is also a Visiting Professor within the Centre for Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Technologies, Staffordshire University, researching the application of vision science to the measurement of cosmetic defect and physical capability among children diagnosed with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis.  

Surgeon Commander Tim Scott MRCP FRCA EDIC RN MD (Lung Simulation)

Tim is currently a Consultant Anaesthetist and Intensive Care Physician at the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust. He is interested in the management of 'blast lung' and to this end is undertaking a project developing a blast lung physiological model, which once validated will facilitate computerised trials of various ventilatory or pharmacological interventions. He is currently working with the team in CBRT to understand Occipital Ulcers in Armed Forces.

Dr Panagiotis Chatzistergos MEng, MSc, PhD, MIPEM

Panos work focuses on musculoskeletal biomechanics and medical devices. He has qualifications in Applied Mathematical and Physical Sciences specialising in Mechanics of Materials and Optoelectronics. He has experience and expertise in Computational Mechanics. His current work focuses on the tissue characterisation within the diabetic foot to prevent ulcers. He has substantial experience in computational modelling and 3D printing.

Our Team Now Includes

Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Technologies, Prosthetics, Orthotics, Electronic System Design, Innovation, Design for Manufacturing, Remote Telemetry & Telematics, Product Safety,