NASA Taps Workforce for Innovative Ideas for Coronavirus Response Efforts

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — For more than 60 years, NASA has overcome a range of unique challenges. Now, the agency is looking to leverage its expertise and capabilities to help the nation with the unprecedented challenge of coronavirus (COVID-19). To come up with new, innovative ideas for how NASA can best contribute to COVID-19 response efforts, the agency is tapping into the brainpower and creativity of its workforce.

On April 1, NASA launched an agencywide call for ideas on its internal crowdsourcing platform NASA @ WORK. The internal website fosters collaboration and provides NASA employees with an inventive way to share knowledge and solve challenges.

“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,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “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 is already contributing to the COVID-19 response in a variety of ways, including lending its  supercomputing capability to advance research for treatments and a vaccine, as well as artificial intelligence expertise to develop new data mining techniques for answering high-priority scientific questions related to COVID-19.

With the new NASA @ WORK opportunity, NASA is seeking additional viable solutions where the agency can make a meaningful difference. For the initial call for ideas, NASA leadership, working with the White House and other government agencies, determined three focus areas around personal protective equipment, ventilation devices, and monitoring and forecasting the spread and impacts of the virus. Other creative ideas are encouraged as well, and as COVID-19 evolves, the NASA @ WORK challenge may introduce additional topic areas to address the needs of the country.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of ideas we receive and how they may be able to propel additional meaningful contributions to the COVID-19 response,” said Bridenstine.

Employees with ideas related to any of the topic areas below can submit them, while others can engage and collaborate with comments and questions.

  • Novel approaches to enable rapid, effective personal protective equipment: Ideas for the development of self-sanitizing personal protective equipment and other novel approaches for sterilizing or repurposing personal protective equipment. Proposed techniques or technologies should be effective, quick, readily implementable, and not affect the filtration, function, or fit of the original even after several cycles of decontamination.
     
  • Rapid design and prototyping of innovative ventilation devices: Ideas that focus on systems with simple interfaces that can be rapidly produced. Considerations may include designs that allow for rapid prototyping, expedited regulatory approval and quick manufacturing, or innovative public-private partnership solutions for the rapid delivery of ventilation devices.
     
  • Forecasting COVID-19’s spread and its impacts on society and Earth: Innovative ways to use NASA data or data information products, data analytics, high performance computing, artificial intelligence, and/or other capabilities to predict the spread of COVID-19 and/or address the virus’s environmental, economic and societal impacts.
     
  • Other ideas within NASA’s mission: Solutions including but not limited to telemedicine, digital assistants to enable healthcare workers to monitor critically ill patients with light and lean architectures, telerobotics to remotely sustain industrial operations, non-contacting diagnostic sensors, and applications of human space exploration lessons learned in dealing with social isolation and blended work/home environments.

“Collaboration is key to stopping the spread of COVID-19 and assisting response efforts,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, the organization leading this effort for the agency. “We’ve seen the country unite over this crisis. In the same way, NASA is working across centers and disciplines to identify appropriate solutions. The NASA @ WORK platform will help make it possible.”

Given that solutions and actions to help with COVID-19 are urgent, ideas for initial consideration should be submitted by April 15. NASA will look for ways to match available resources with viable ideas to get them up and running. To the extent possible, NASA intends to make new designs resulting from this effort open source for any business or country to use.

For more information on NASA’s response to coronavirus, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/coronavirus

For employees seeking more information about the NASA @ WORK opportunity, visit:

https://nasa-at-work.nasa.gov/