McKINNEY, TX -- James Griffin, CEO and founder of Invene, was sitting in a North Texas coffee shop for a small meeting, explaining to those in attendance that his first major in college was in Biomedical Engineering before eventually switching to Computer Science. That was in early March.

Little did he know just how important that short stint in Biomedical Engineering would soon become.

It was less than a week later that the coronavirus pandemic started to take a hold of the country. More and more people started to get sick, social distance measures started to be implemented, and businesses were being temporarily shut down by the government. Not too long after that, it became clear that there was going to be a critical shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders.

“I immediately jumped into action as I’m incredibly passionate about protecting our health care workers,” said Griffin. “A lot of hospitals are allowing doctors and health care workers to bring in their own PPE. That’s where our invention comes in.”

He teamed up with Dr. Peter Baek, an anesthesiologist in Plano to design and manufacture a valve attachment that can convert a snorkel mask into a reusable N95 mask that health care workers can use. The two of them then partnered with Emerson Automation Solutions in McKinney to use their 3D printers to create the physical attachment at cost (less than $10).

“Our goal is primarily to help doctors and health care professionals in the Dallas and Collin County areas,” explained Griffin. “Emerson gave us feedback on our design and helped us cut the cost of the component in half. They have been a large factor in our success.”

Griffin and Baek released their design to the public for free to help folks around the world. Even still, the two of them plan to manufacture the adapter as long as needed. They’ve also set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the materials needed to make the adapters.

“No one is making money from this venture. We’re just happy we can help.”