Our Accomplishments

An overview of what we've accomplished so far.

Public Invention to Present two talks at FOSDEM

We will be presenting a talk on the PolyVent at FOSDEM, and also introducing GOSQAS. The Global Open Source Quality Assurance System is an alliance of many humanitarian engineering non-profits which proposes to improve quality by building a free and open asset-tracking and provenance-tracking system.

Second NASA Contract

In early January, Public Invention got a second contract with NASA to design and build a digital control system for an advanced solid-state oxygen concentrator they are developing. (We are only doing the control system, not the ceramics and the chemistry.) This has huge implications for global health, and we are proud to be a part of it.

PolyVent Educational Platform Tested at Rice University

In early December 2022, the PolyVent Educational Platform was used in an extra credit class exercise by Senior biomedical engineering students at Rice University, who gave it high marks. 

NASA Contract

This summer NASA awarded a sub-contract through Jacobs' Engineering to advise on building a control system for a Ceramic Oxygen Generator. This work is closely related to work we have already done on "the Ox" oxygen generator and PolyVent/VentOS system. Everything we do is open-source, you can see the system here.

Journal Paper Published

This work started with the Public Invention Mathathon of 2018, and is now finally culminated! Check out the video!Read, Robert L. "Calculating the Segmented Helix Formed by Repetitions of Identical Subunits thereby Generating a Zoo of Platonic Helices." Mathematics 10.14 (2022): 2533. https://www.mdpi.com/2227-7390/10/14/2533

Ferrofluid Paper Released

On March 30th of 2022, Veronica Stuckey and Robert L. Read released a pre-print research paper called, "A Novel Passive Ferrofluid One-way (Check) Valve," on Engineering Archive (EngrXIV): Link Here!

Paper Published

Nov., 2021: Along with Dr. Erich Schulz and Ben Coombs, we published a summary of the "Open-source hardware and the great ventilator rush of 2020 ". https://www.anzca.edu.au/resources/college-publications/australasian-anaesthesia-(the-blue-book)/blue-book-2021.pdf#page=18

Paper Presented

On September 8th, Robert L. Read presented a paper at the 2nd IMA conference on Robotics and Mathematics entitled "Calculating the Segmented Helix Formed by Repetitions of Identical Subunits". This work came out of the 2018 Public Invention Mathathon.


On May 28th, Public Invention hosted RespiCon, a virtual conference on open source respiration policy and technology. This was attended by 115 people and many valuable connections were formed.

On January 9, 2021, Public Invention hosted a conference called PubInvCon 2021: Work to be Done! The conference was a coming together of dedicated inventors, volunteers, scientists, students, and more interested in humanitarian inventing “in the public, for the public.” We discussed our successes of 2020 and outlined the hard work still to be done in 2021. 

On November 7th-8th, Dr. Robert Read delivered a paper coauthored by Avinash Baskaran to the ICMME 2020: the 7th International Conference on Mechatronics and Mechanical Engineering. 

On Tuesday October 20th, Public Invention was part of a successful demo by PolyVent to the Mayor of Linz, Austria.

As a follow-up to our Vent-Con event in May, we hosted VentCon QA in July, a free, virtual mini-conference that discussed open source ventilators on the topic of Quality Assurance and Regulatory Compliance. This conference was again supported by Helpful Engineering and Make.co.

In May, Public Invention hosted Vent-Con 2020, a conference about Open Source Ventilators. This was co-hosted by Make MagazineHelpfulEngineering, and the Ventilators Collaboration Network.The conference was a big success with about 120 participants in attendance. 

Avinash Baskaran, Megan Cadena, and Keeshan Patel make accepted proposal of a "soft Stewart platform" to the UT Create-a-thon

Avinash Baskaran Wins 1st Place in IEEE Professional Forum in Clear Lake, TX.

We have produced 26 open-source repos of work so far.

Our biggest accomplishment has been revitalizing the Tetrobot concept.

Paper About the PolyVent accepted to the American Society for Engineering Education

In June 2023, we will attend the American Society for Engineering Education Conference and present a paper about the PolyVent.


Published peer-reviewed academic journal article describing simple optimization of a tetrahelix.

In conjunction with the Greater Austin Chapter of Engineers Without Borders USA, invented the Armadillo, a portable Petrifilm Incubator: https://www.ewb.org.au/jhe/index.php/jhe/article/view/127.

The Gluss Project has demonstrated a very novel unconventional robot.


Developed a 3D printable optical linear sensor (with Keeshan Patel.)

Published an article on using the Raspberry Pi in Nuts and Volts (with Morgan Chen.)

The Gluss Pusher project is developing an inexpensive prototype linear actuator for building large, highly scalable robots.

We have published 3D plans for a legitimiate novel invention: The Turret Joint which is essential to the construciton of Gluss robots (this was invented by Song, Kwon, and Kim.)

We’ve created and published CoilChoice, and interactive tool for desiging electromagnetic coils.

This project later took 4th place on the Women in Technology Institute (WITI) Virtual Hackathon.

A team formed at the Austin Hack for Change Civic Hackathon won “Most Hacked Forward” superlative with ATX Preemie Warmer.

An educational double pendulum simulation has been created, as part of an unsolicited proposal to Montshire Science Museum for a physical exhibit. If any knows of a better double-pendulum simulation, please let me know.

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Read, Robert L. "Calculating the Segmented Helix Formed by Repetitions of Identical Subunits thereby Generating a Zoo of Platonic Helices." Mathematics 10.14 (2022): 2533. https://www.mdpi.com/2227-7390/10/14/2533

Read, Robert L. "Calculating the Segmented Helix Formed by Repetitions of Identical Subunits." IMA Conference on Mathematics of Robotics. Springer, Cham, 2020. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-91352-6_12

Read, Robert L. "Erich B Schulz, MBBS, MBA, FANZCA.", Ben Coombs. Open-source hardware and the great ventilator rush of 2020. Australasian Anaesthesia 1 (2021): 36. https://www.anzca.edu.au/resources/college-publications/australasian-anaesthesia-(the-blue-book)/blue-book-2021.pdf#page=18

Read, Robert L., Lauria Clarke, and Geoff Mulligan. "VentMon: An open source inline ventilator tester and monitor." HardwareX 9 (2021): e00195. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ohx.2021.e00195

Read, Robert L., and Avinash Baskaran. "Controlling a variable geometry truss tetrobot with an isomorphic puppet controller." 2020 2nd International Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Control. 2020. https://doi.org/10.1145/3448326.3448332

Schulz, Erich B., and Robert L. Read. "The importance of characterising dynamic response and inertia in potential rapidly manufactured ventilator systems." Anaesthesia (2020). https://associationofanaesthetists-publications.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/anae.15190

Read, Robert L. "Transforming Optimal Tetrahelices Between the Boerdijk–Coxeter Helix and a Planar-Faced Tetrahelix." Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics 10.5 (2018): 051001. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4040433

Heligman, Brian T., Alice Zhao, Evan Bartilson, Abhay Gupta, Joshua Hannan, Maimouna Diop, and Robert L. Read. "The design and usage of a portable incubator for inexpensive in-field water analysis." Journal of Humanitarian Engineering 6, no. 2 (2018). https://doi.org/10.36479/jhe.v6i2.127

Other Publications

A Novel Passive Ferrofluid One-way (Check) Valve. Veronica Stuckey and Robert L. Read. March, 2022. https://engrxiv.org/preprint/view/2242

How to Start a Public Invention and Humanitarian Engineering Club at Your University. Robert L. Read, Joshua M. Pearce, Avinash Baskaran, Megan Cadena, Sabia Abidi. August, 2021. https://robertleeread.medium.com/how-to-start-a-public-invention-and-humanitarian-engineering-club-at-your-university-e9fe42065c83

Geotagtext, A Tutorial: A Free Geotagging Web Application Composed of Free Tools, Robert L. Read, Diego Aspinwall, and Neil Martis. July 2021 https://medium.com/nerd-for-tech/geotagtext-a-tutorial-a-free-geotagging-web-application-composed-of-free-tools-b42bcbcca202

The Humanitarian Engineering and Free-libre Open Source Pandemic Response Organizations. Robert L. Read, February 2021. https://robertleeread.medium.com/the-humanitarian-engineering-free-libre-open-source-pandemic-response-organizations-6dd3c7f0299a

The Humanitarian Engineering Response to the Pandemic: The New Year's Mid-game. Robert L. Read, January, 2021. https://medium.com/public-invention/the-humanitarian-engineering-response-to-the-pandemic-the-new-years-mid-game-ff99d296a1a6

Vent-Con 2020: An Open Source Ventilator Conference. Robert L. Read. May 2020. https://robertleeread.medium.com/vent-con-2020-an-open-source-ventilator-conference-19879c53cca4

Modular Design in the Ventilator Crisis: Why it Matters. Robert L. Read and Jenny Filipetti. April 2020. https://robertleeread.medium.com/modular-design-in-the-ventilator-crisis-why-it-matters-ff767c420b70

An Intelligent Bag-squeezer for COVID-19 Open Source Ventilators and Why it Matters. Robert L. Read. April 2020. https://robertleeread.medium.com/an-intelligent-bag-squeezer-for-covid-19-open-source-ventilators-and-why-it-matters-6585ec2843ed

How to Make Your Own Accurate Test Lungs for Testing Emergency Ventilators. Alex Izvorski and Robert L. Read. April 2020.https://robertleeread.medium.com/how-to-make-your-own-accurate-test-lungs-for-testing-emergency-ventilators-2d68fe5ac460

Pandemic Ventilators Should Support Spontaneous Breathing. Erich B. Schulz and Robert L. Read. April 2020. https://robertleeread.medium.com/pandemic-ventilators-should-support-spontaneous-breathing-77d991f2e11d

The Pandemic Demands Modularizing the Open Source Ventilator Problem. Robert L. Read and Nariman Poushin. April 2020. https://robertleeread.medium.com/the-pandemic-demands-modularizing-the-open-source-ventilator-problem-b20bc41e66ff

A Quick Comparison of the AmboVent and Apollo BVM Pandemic Ventilators. Robert L. Read, April 2020. https://robertleeread.medium.com/a-quick-comparison-of-the-ambovent-and-apollo-bvm-pandemic-ventilators-977d15345440

Medtronic Open-source Ventilator does not meet UK's Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator System Standard. Robert L. Read, April 2020. https://robertleeread.medium.com/medtronic-open-source-ventilator-does-not-meet-uks-rapidly-manufactured-ventilator-systems-81947c72a7ac

The Open Source Ventilator Game Has Changed: AmboVent and Medtronic COVID-19 Ventilators Open Sourced. Robert L. Read, April 2020. https://robertleeread.medium.com/the-open-source-ventilator-game-has-changed-ambovent-and-medtronic-covid-19-ventilators-open-d645bde594cc

Open Source Validation Tests for Open Source COVID-19 Emergency Ventilators. Robert L. Read, Nariman Poushin, and Juan E. Villacres Perez, March, 2020. https://robertleeread.medium.com/open-source-validation-tests-for-open-source-covid-19-emergency-ventilators-7096c6393d61

Analysis of Open Source COVID-19 Pandemic Ventilator Proejcts. Robert L. Read, Keeshan Patel, and Nariman Poushin. March 2020. https://robertleeread.medium.com/analysis-of-open-source-covid-19-pandemic-ventilator-projects-27acf9075f7e

The State of Open Source Ventilator Projects as of March 21st. March, 2020. Robert L. Read, Nariman Poushin, Keeshan Patel, Stacey Oliver Sarris and Andrea Ippolito. https://robertleeread.medium.com/the-state-of-open-source-ventilator-projects-as-of-march-21st-1f36bfb608b4

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day: A Fun Chance to Promote Your Organization. Robert L. Read, September 2019. https://robertleeread.medium.com/introduce-a-girl-to-engineering-day-a-fun-chance-to-promote-your-organization-e85a5042f974

What to do when you hear about your idea: "That's been done...", Robert L. Read, July 2019. https://robertleeread.medium.com/what-to-do-when-you-hear-about-your-idea-thats-been-done-cf5d8cc2e015

A UX Widget for Expressing Balance: Triad Balance. Robert L. Read, July 2019. https://uxdesign.cc/a-ux-widget-for-expressing-balance-1d294564a1c

How to Graduate from Maker to Public Inventor. Robert L. Read. July 2019. https://medium.com/hackernoon/maker-into-public-inventor-d337e155cb92

The Joy of Collaboration. Robert L. Read, May 2019. https://medium.com/hackernoon/the-joy-of-collaboration-495e31916440

Public Invention Project #40: A Wheel for Painting Very Thin Lines. Robert L. Read, March 2019. https://medium.com/hackernoon/public-invention-project-40-a-wheel-for-painting-very-thin-lines-5d596c625549

Working through Sipser, a textbook on Theoretical Computer Science. Robert L. Read and John K. Gibbons. January 2019. https://medium.com/hackernoon/working-through-sipser-a-textbook-on-theoretical-computer-science-3ded71d7e72d

43 Public Invention Projects That Need You. Robert L. Read. January 2019.https://medium.com/hackernoon/43-public-invention-projects-that-need-you-a8e4e39130b4

The Story of a Public, Cooperative Mathathon. Robert L. Read, December 2018. https://medium.com/hackernoon/the-story-of-a-public-cooperative-mathathon-29ea5f4ff538

A Disconnect between the Free Software Movement and Open Science. Marc Jones and Robert L. Read. October 2018. https://medium.com/hackernoon/a-disconnect-between-the-free-software-movement-and-open-science-c5f0f0b408f2

Do Math Socially: The Mathathon. Robert L. Read. September, 2018. https://medium.com/q-e-d/do-math-socially-the-mathathon-a375f8fdc319

Experience from the <code>/earth hackathon for Project Drawdown. Robert L. Read, 2018. https://medium.com/hackernoon/experience-from-the-code-earth-hackathon-for-project-drawdown-184e2a412e4b

Mission of Public Invention, 2.0. September 2018. Robert L. Read. https://medium.com/public-invention/mission-of-public-invention-2-0-46b5d2268db4

Public Invention: Mission Statement, 2018. Robert L. Read. July 2018. https://medium.com/public-invention/public-invention-mission-statement-2018-3f5a8f7c5d60

Summer Projects 2018. Robert L. Read. April 2019. https://medium.com/public-invention/summer-projects-2018-2c936bb032c7

Fundamental Tools for Math in 2019. Robert L. Read. March 2018. https://medium.com/q-e-d/fundamental-tools-for-math-in-2018-78739b86d15

Math Every Morning. Robert L. Read. February 2018. https://medium.com/q-e-d/math-every-morning-a05aa72f235c

Failed Experiments with Ferrofluid. Robert L. Read. August 2017. https://medium.com/hackernoon/failed-experiments-with-ferrofluid-742fa13b0ae1

A Brief, Bad, Ignorant Review of Existing Numerical Optimization Software in JavaScript, Further Weakened by Unvetted Philosophy and Opinions. Robert L. Read, 2017. https://robertleeread.medium.com/a-brief-bad-ignorant-review-of-existing-numerical-optimization-software-in-javascript-further-c70f68641fda

Project #33: 3D Print Soft Robotics with PVA Molds filled with Silicone. Robert L. Read, 2017. https://medium.com/public-invention/project-33-3d-print-soft-robotics-with-pva-molds-filled-with-silicone-bf04e79ce1ae

Summer Projects, 2017. Robert L. Read, April 2017. https://medium.com/public-invention/summer-projects-2017-cb11c18a4f0e

Human Centered Design vs. Agile Development: Adaptive Balance. Robert L. Read. March 2017. https://medium.com/agile-government-leadership/human-centered-design-vs-agile-development-adaptive-balance-8fd51e652e4f

Project #7: Color-block Font for Writing. Robert L. Read, 2017. https://medium.com/hackernoon/project-7-color-block-font-for-writing-6b51d716e0e4

Become A Public Inventor. Robert L. Read, July, 2016. https://medium.com/hackernoon/become-a-public-inventor-aae282995f27