COLLEGE STATION, Texas — There have been countless studies and research to fight COVID-19 in 2020.
Engineering students Marianela Cintrón and John Karako had the chance to join that fight in April with the Aggies Against COVID-19 virtual competition.
“I just thought of it as a great opportunity to get involved and make a difference with all the crazy chaos that’s been happening,” Cintrón said.
Marianela and John’s team got to the top 10 in the competition, automatically qualifing them for the National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps Site Program.
The program gave them resources and funding to further develop their product, 'Sterilight.'
“It utilizes far UVC light which is a type of ultraviolet light," Cintrón said, "when this is turned on, the surface that the light is touching, it sterilizes it completely.”
Basically, think of a desk lamp whose light beams clean everything it touches.
Originally, they thought of keeping that light in a box to clean masks, but after talking to businesses during the NSF program, Karako said, “[they] changed our design to fit their needs. So NSF I-Corp gave us $2,500 at the end of the program to continue prototyping.”
John and Marianela don’t have a physical prototype yet, but they hope to continue getting more feedback from potential customers and figure out a business plan.
“Far UVC is kind of an emerging technology we’re also working with the material science department at A&M to figure out a more feasible way of providing the far UVC light,” Karako said.
The team hopes that the 'Sterilight' helps with coronavirus, the flu virus and any other virus that in the future.
Marianela and John are hoping by the time they make their physical prototype the Far UVC light will be more available to the public to get it into schools and businesses.