Skip to Content

Ryan Sadkowski | MSF '19

Ryan Sadkowski, MSF '19


Like many people caught in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, Ryan Sadkowski (BSF '18, MSF ’19), was trying to figure out how he could join the fight against the global pandemic. So, when he heard about the buzz surrounding an upstart band of volunteers organizing a non-profit called the Ventilator Project, his curiosity was piqued.

The ambitious initiative was started by Purdue University alumni Tyler Mantel (ChE ’13, ME ’13) and Alex Frost to address the projected massive shortfall of ventilators, life-saving devices critical to the fight against the global crisis. Both being entrepreneurs with startups in MassRobotics in Boston, the founders utilized their professional networks to quickly assemble a team with the goal of developing and mass-producing a low-cost solution suitable specifically for the coronavirus patient.



“A guts version of a ventilator,” as Sadkowski describes it. “One that is much more cost-effective and easier to quickly get into hospitals, home care, in the hands of anyone who needs it.”

It turned out that Ryan’s friend and former Boilermaker football teammate, Jacob Thieneman (ME '18), had been tabbed as a public relations and media lead for the Ventilator Project. Without hesitation, Ryan reached out and asked how he could help. A management consultant for boutique management consulting firm, Forsyth Advisors, Sadkowski had prior experience working in strategic sourcing and helping supply chains improve their processes and reduce costs.

“I’m not an engineer or materials specialist working on the device itself, but I’ve worked with medical supply companies,” Sadkowski says. “I also have experience with prototypes, reverse engineering, sourcing and production. When a prototype is approved, I thought I could help with moving the project into mass production.”

Within twenty-four hours, he had a remote meeting with Tyler and was brought into the team. Dozens of professionals, engineers, medical professionals, MBA candidates, even undergraduates taking classes at home joined the cause, many of them fellow Boilermakers.

Sadkowski cites the culture of community, teamwork, and exposure to diverse perspectives as critical components of his experience at the Krannert School of Management that have been valuable in his escalating involvement in the Ventilator Project.

“To get more technical, the financial modeling we are discussing comes directly out of what Krannert speaks to. The model we looked at the other week was similar to a model we discussed in Dr. Faccio’s class. Another was one we discussed in Dr. Boquist’s class. Models don’t show us how you do what we’re trying to do in thirty days. You have to understand the fundamentals of what drive the models, because we’re dealing with a unique situation with gaps between what you should be doing and the models. Those discussions from class are proving very valuable now,” Sadkowski says.


prototype ventilator for The Ventilator Project

Engineers with The Ventilator Project,  have now iterated the 4th prototype in just 2 weeks, naming the ventilator “AIRA”. The new prototype has twice the capacity of air volume, 1.8 liters.


As of early April, within just a matter of a few weeks working together, five prototypes have been developed with the goal of engaging manufacturers to scale to 1,000 within 30 days. But many obstacles are still ahead as they seek FDA approval, cross-border production, and the financial resources to achieve their goals. Two critical factors to success will be time and money. Within ten days, they need to raise $100,000. By June, that figure could be closer to $2.4 million.

“In addition to the cause, the reason that I stepped in was that I saw that this was being led by Boilermakers. A lot of schools can talk about building your network. But things like this, they require quite a bit more than a network. There are no titles in this. People are working on this at all hours of the day. Everyone is given a voice to speak up and contribute. Everyone is receptive to feedback on how we fund this, produce it, and market it on a large scale. The end goal is to save lives,” Sadkowski says.

Ryan Sadkowski counted on his MS Finance degree accelerating his career, which it has. Yet, it's given him so much more as he contributes to bringing life-saving technology to market.
That's Ryan's Giant Leap.


For more information on the Ventilator Project or to learn how you can get involved and donate, visit