Edmund O. Schweitzer III and SEL contribute to race to beat COVID-19

Purdue Engineering alumnus Edmund O. Schweitzer III (BSEE 1968, MSEE 1971) and the company he founded, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL), are contributing in major ways to the all-out effort to beat COVID-19.

Edmund O. Schweitzer III with donated SEL-2411TM in Purdue University Pharmacy.

The founder, president and chief technology officer of SEL is leading initiatives to:

• Provide a temperature monitoring and logging device developed for storing COVID-19 vaccines.
• Support local hospitals and organizations impacted by the pandemic.
• Offer COVID-19 tests to employees and their families, plus community partners, in the area of the company’s Pullman, Washington, headquarters.
• Operate vaccination clinics for community residents.

Since early in the pandemic, SEL has been working with local healthcare providers, academic institutions and community leaders, including Pullman Regional Hospital and Washington State University, to create solutions to meet immediate needs, evolving as the situation changes.

“Our company is committed to innovation and sharing our expertise to address critical problems facing society and our community,” Schweitzer said. “We are excited to be making a difference in the race to conquer COVID-19.”

Mung Chiang, Purdue’s John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering, said: “Dr. Schweitzer has always been a visionary leader. He is one of the most impactful engineers and inventors in our country, and now he and SEL have demonstrated how to rise to the pandemic challenge. Purdue is truly excited to continue the many partnerships with Ed and his team.”

Monitoring device developed in a week

SEL’s newest addition to the anti-COVID-19 arsenal is a device tailor-made for storing temperature-sensitive vaccines. A team at SEL went to work on a solution when a local hospital was unable to get a temperature monitor for its freezers due to backorders.

“Within a week of the request from Gritman Medical Center, our engineers developed a custom application of our SEL-2411 Programmable Logic Controller that meets the need for ultra-cold storage of COVID-19 vaccine in a very accurate, reliable and user-friendly way,” Schweitzer said. “We are thrilled to be able to provide this solution to hospitals and other vaccine distribution centers in our community and around the world.”

SEL-2411TM being built.

The SEL-2411 Temperature Monitor Digital Data Logger (SEL-2411TM), which features a touchscreen interface and SEL-designed temperature probes, works with any commercial refrigerator, freezer or ultra-cold freezer to ensure the integrity of refrigerated vaccines and other temperature-sensitive items. Backed by 24/7 monitoring through SEL’s operations center, the device alerts a user to a temperature fluctuation immediately. One system can track and record data for up to eight refrigeration units.

SEL-2411TM display.

Donation to Purdue University Pharmacy

On a recent visit to Purdue, Schweitzer brought an SEL-2411TM for the Purdue University Pharmacy. While the Pharmacy is not storing COVID-19 vaccines, it is using the device to monitor the storage temperatures of such pharmaceuticals as flu and pneumonia vaccines, and insulin.

“We are extremely grateful for Dr. Schweitzer’s donation,” said Nicole Noel, director of the Purdue University Pharmacy and clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice. “It gives our Pharmacy team peace of mind to know that the medications we store are safe for our patients and that our valuable inventory is protected around the clock.”

Community support, testing, and vaccination clinics

Throughout the pandemic, SEL has worked to provide support within its communities. The company has provided more than $400,000 in funding to nonprofit organizations, including several local hospitals that were particularly hard hit early in the pandemic. The company is also offering COVID-19 tests and collaborating with healthcare providers to administer vaccinations.

SEL started offering free polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for the novel coronavirus in August and added free in-house rapid antigen testing in October. Testing at several locations is open to employees and their relatives and roommates, as well as community partners, including first responders, educators, clergy, and long-term care facility residents and staff.

The company is hosting vaccination clinics at its event center in Pullman and its manufacturing facility in Lewiston, Idaho. To date, SEL has provided more than 17,000 COVID-19 vaccinations to community members.

SEL employee receiving a vaccination at a company clinic.