Damith Rozairo, a 2009 MSUM physics graduate, played an essential role in Appareo’s emergency ventilator project to provide critical resources during the Coronavirus pandemic. Once complete, they expect to deliver 2,000 ventilators to the state of North Dakota and 1,000 to South Dakota.
“When this project started, everyone in the company who is involved offered to work late nights to complete this project. We felt like we were doing something for the greater good, and helping the community is absolutely gratifying,” said Rozairo, who also has a Ph.D. in materials and nanotechnology from NDSU.
As one of Appareo’s test engineers, Rozairo joined the ventilator project near the end of the design phase but was involved in crucial and extensive testing of the units to ensure it met all FDA guidelines.
“This was something new; our company had not designed or manufactured medical equipment before,” Rozairo said. “It was nice to know I could adapt and learn about new technology and quickly figure out the medical and equipment standards to see how we should test the units.”
He credits his undergraduate degree for nurturing that critical thinking.
“I developed my problem-solving skills during my time in the physics program at MSUM. Just about any new technology is based on the fundamentals of physics. When I have to solve a problem, that’s where all the critical thinking comes from.”
He talks fondly about MSUM’s physics professors and maintains contact with many of them to this day. He says the small classes offered more one-on-one attention and helped foster connections and relationships.
“Steve (Lindaas) was my advisor and mentor,” Rozairo said. “I worked with him quite a bit and he helped me throughout my college career, including my time at NDSU. I could always count on him when I needed advice on how to handle a situation.”
“I worked with Damith on both research and outreach projects. He was as effective explaining light and color to second grade students as he was setting up and characterizing an optical system,” said MSUM physics Professor Steve Lindaas. “Essentially his inquisitive nature could be applied to a range of situations, whether understanding how to explain or how to apply physics concepts. It does not surprise me that his skill set is useful at a company like Appareo.”
Appareo is a privately-owned, Fargo-based company that is an established leader in the custom design, development and manufacture of innovative electronic and software solutions for aerospace, agriculture, and defense. Learn more about Appareo’s emergency ventilator project.
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A unique program aims to encourage more MSUM physics students to follow Conduah into the field of medical physics. The Bachelor of Science degree in physics with emphasis in medical physics is the brainchild of Dr. Steve Lindaas and Dr. Ananda Shastri, both professors in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. It’s one of just a handful of programs nationwide that prepare undergraduates for careers in medical physics.