COVID-19COVID-19 brought challenges to everyone, both personal and professional. By leveraging our strong student leadership and flexible approach, the Bechtel Center was able to:

  1. Reopen safely to students as soon as possible - 28/28 independent snap audits passed without fault in 2020
  2. Create an unparalleled remote machining experience built on our EDUCATIONAL DIGITAL TWIN platform
  3. Produced >30,000 COVID-19 PPE parts
  4. Reverse engineered, redesigned, and developed manufacturing for seven ventilators parts

When campus went remote beginning in early March 2020, the Center immediately began an intensive series of strategy meetings with our teams and student leader stakeholders to position the Center to reopen safely and securely as soon as possible. In that time, we were a founder member of the PPE manufacturing effort. During the summer, Dr. Swabey reviewed over 50 COVID-19 SOPs for four buildings on campus (EE, Bechtel Center, KNOY, and MSEE). This was both to ensure that campusreturn to research proceeded and to gain the essential knowledge and networking to ensure the Center was able to re-open.


The Center successfully reopened at the beginning of fall, with the full 2020 count of new student members hitting 800+, and passing 28 of 28 independent snap inspections of COVID SOPs without comment.

By making Purdue students integral to the planning and decision-making process, they became a key part of the solution, self-policing and exercising responsible judgement.



As a founding member of the Purdue COVID-19 Medical Supplies Response Team, the Center produced >30,000 COVID-19 PPE parts. In parallel, David McMillan and others also reverse engineered and redesigned seven different ventilator parts for hospitals in Indiana that had become impossible to source commercially due to supply chain collapse.

Additionally, David McMillan and Dr. Matthew Swabey designed and produced a custom tube cutting machine that was built in a few weeks to supplement the PPE production effort. It was able to cut 120 pieces of tubing a minute to the correct length, freeing a team of volunteers to focus on other aspects of PPE production.