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The Engineer of Love

Andrew Conru built the Web's first online personals site into one of the biggest--and raciest

6 min read
The Engineer of Love

Conru

Andrew Conru doesn’t look like the master of online dating. A tall 41-year-old with short hair, glasses, and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering design from Stanford, he’s more geek than gigolo. As we walk past an empty retail space in a trendy part of Seattle, he tells me about the virtual-reality restaurant he’s trying to build inside. Diners would eat in a real train car, with changing scenes from exotic locales projected on the windows—videos of Kyoto with your sushi, for example—as the train shakes and shimmies to simulate forward motion. ”I haven’t worked out the hydraulics yet,” Conru says.

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The Great Ventilator Rush

Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, engineers launched extraordinary crash programs that produced scores of ventilator designs. What will happen to them now?

14 min read
Not Rocket Science: Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory built a working ventilator prototype in a 37-day period spanning the months of March and April 2020.
Photo: JPL-Caltech/NASA

The projections were horrifying. Experts were forecasting upwards of 100 million people in the United States infected with the novel coronavirus, with 2 percent needing intensive care, and half of those requiring the use of medical ventilators.

In early March, it seemed as if the United States might need a million ventilators to cope with COVID-19—six times as many as hospitals had at the time. The federal government launched a crash purchasing program for 200,000 of the complex devices, but they would take months to arrive and cost tens of thousands of dollars each.

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