MIT & Us – A Powerful Collaboration

The power of collaboration, remote working, learning and making a difference.

“Follow your soul. It knows the way.”

This piece of philosophical advice is not as difficult to do as one might think. Case in point: Federico Bescotti, a volunteer member of Kufema Zimbabwe’s engineering team. His life path has led him to work (remotely) in his home country, helping to produce open source ventilators in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2012, Federico was a member of the Zimbabwean team that won a medal at the International Junior Science Olympiad (IJSO) in Tehran, capital of Iran. Two years later Federico participated in the International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO) in Cape Town.

Now, Federico is a fourth year Mechanical Engineering & Business Management student at the prestigious MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). He says, “After learning of how poorly equipped Zimbabwe is to handle the COVID-19 crisis I was desperate to help in some way. As I’m under lockdown in the US, I thought the most impactful way I could help is by being a liaison between Kufema and MIT, helping to build connections to top engineers and gaining access to any useful resources that MIT could offer.

“And so I reached out to my professors – Dr Barbara Hughey and Dr Kevin Cedrone – and told them that we have a dedicated team of engineers on the ground in Zimbabwe with very little resources who need technical support in order to get their prototype ventilator working. Dr Hughey and Dr Cedrone were able to put me in contact with the people working on MIT’s open source ventilator (MIT E-Vent), a ventilator that can be built using parts off-the-shelf. The MIT E-Vent engineers are now helping Kufema Zimbabwe’s team, and we are building our prototype based on this model.”

According to Kufema Zimbabwe’s CEO Juliet Le Breton, “Our talented engineers are working hard to find locally available components to build an Africa-friendly version of the MIT E-Vent emergency ventilator. Thanks to Federico we are getting emails with technical advice from MIT which may speed up testing and production and help us get ventilators to people who need them faster, so we can save more lives.”

Thank you Federico, MIT and our dedicated engineers on the ground in Zimbabwe – together we can make a difference. 

Update from Team Kufema: We’ve almost completed the prototype on the MIT ventilator model & will be able to share exciting news on the testing of that shortly. Stay tuned!


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