Rahul Swaminathan, a sophomore biomedical engineering major who worked on animations and modeling the mask, said the team’s size was a major factor in the quality of the final design.
“Our whole theme was adaptability, and because of our team, we were really able to attack the issue from a lot of different angles and play to our strengths,” Swaminathan said.
Bhrugubanda worked with Swaminathan on CAD designs for the mask, and their teammates created prototypes with 3D printers. Together, he said, they were able to test theoretical problems with the design nearly instantly and make corrections in the digital file.
Bhrugubanda said the XPRIZE competition has been the highlight of his first year at Hopkins. Although the team had to work remotely owing to the pandemic, he said, they came together well under imperfect circumstances. The team was based in Baltimore, but its members worked remotely from three continents and 14 different states in the U.S.
Zhang said the team will use its funding to produce more professional prototypes and begin pursuing patents for their new technologies.
“[The XPRIZE competition] was a great start for Polair,” Zhang said. “We were able to get a nice experience working with professionals from Honeywell on how to best manufacture a mask, got some input on how exactly masks are designed and created, and are now positioned to take the next steps toward making these masks a reality.”
Though the team didn’t take home the $500,000 Grand Prize award, Bhrugubanda, said the team is thrilled about their placement in the competition and what it means for their product.