Town Square

How Do We Find Innovative Solutions And Tap Into Creativity In Times Of Crisis?

We hear the story of how a Rice University engineering team designed an emergency ventilator in just a matter of weeks to help COVID-19 patients. And a bestselling author discusses ways to tap into one’s own inventive spirit.

The ApolloBVM is an automated bag valve mask (BVM) device utilizing off-the-shelf components to provide safe and continuous hospital-grade mechanical ventilation for COVID-19 patients on an open-source basis. It was designed in March/April 2020 by a team at Rice University’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen.


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Town Square with Ernie Manouse airs at 3 p.m. CT. Tune in on 88.7FM, listen online or subscribe to the podcast. Join the discussion at 888-486-9677, or @townsquaretalk.

Remember MacGyver, and his uncanny knack for getting out of any high-pressure situation with duct tape and pliers?

That may be a TV character, but creativity and unconventional problem solving are in high demand, especially during this past year of the pandemic.

Today, we discuss innovation in times of crisis.

We look at a ventilator developed by Rice University engineering students, now being used to help COVID-19 patients. Also, creativity expert and bestselling author of “The Artist’s Way,” Julia Cameron, talks about her new book, "The Listening Path."

What are your thoughts about innovation and creativity during times of crisis? Are you discovering creative solutions to problems?


Danny Blacker:

Thomas Herring:

  • Former Rice University undergraduate engineering student, now a computer science graduate student at Rice

Blacker and Herring were lead engineers on the team that designed the respirator known as the ApolloBVM. Also on the team were Fernando Cruz, engineering design technician, and Amy Kavalewitz, OEDK Executive Director. Learn more about the ApolloBVM in Episode 3 of Houston Public Media’s digitial series, “Tested“:


Julia Cameron:

  • Bestselling author of “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Guide to Higher Creativity”
  • Her new book is "The Listening Path: The Creative Art of Attention," published by St. Martin's Essentials
Hailed by the New York Times as “The Queen of Change,” Julia Cameron is credited with starting a creativity movement in 1992 with her bestselling book, “The Artist’s Way.”

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Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Senior Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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