Supporting Interdisciplinary Teams Responding to Societal Crises: mobileSHIELD

On July 3, faculty and administration from the Grainger College of Engineering decided to work in collaboration with the SHIELD: target, test, tell team and  Discovery Partner’s Institute to develop a proposal to build a mobile version of the SHIELD lab (possibly operationalized as a fleet of mobile labs) to support the land-grant mission. This represents a unique, interdisciplinary and fluid team that was formed quickly and under pressure to respond to pressing societal concerns through translational and applied research. Our overarching goal is to support the design teams involved in responses to future global and national challenges, by addressing two objectives: (1) develop guidelines to support the development and deployment of interdisciplinary design teams to rapidly address emergent societal concerns; and (2) improve the education of engineering and medical students with an organizational design perspective to facilitate effective collaborative design. To do this, we must first understand what makes for effective collaboration between engineers and clinical personnel. We will study an interdisciplinary design team, composed of engineers, clinicians and business management executives, developing a mobile laboratory to conduct COVID-19 testing. We will use the collaborative inquiry paradigm as a theoretical framework for evaluating the social processes of co-inquiry in this specific context of how interdisciplinary (engineering and clinical) teams collaborative design innovative technologies such as mobileSHIELD. This paradigm will be paired with a sociotechnical approach to teams that consider team membership, tools and technology to support members and environmental and organizational considerations. From this research, we will generate foundational understanding to develop new models and tools to prepare engineers and clinicians for successful collaboration.


Research Tools:

Interdisciplinary Teams Responding to Societal Crises


Outside Links:

MobileShield web page:

MobileShield press release:


Media Coverage:

  1. COM NBC 25 — August 10, 2020 — University of Illinois working to expand COVID-19 saliva testing nationally
  2. CBS 2 Chicago — August 19, 2020 — FDA Approves ‘Game Changing’ COVID-19 Saliva Test Developed At The University Of Illinois
  3. WILL — August 19, 2020 — U Of I’s Saliva-Based COVID-19 Test Receives FDA Emergency Authorization
  4. The St. Louis American — August 22, 2020 — COVID-19 saliva test allows three U. of I campuses to open in-person
  5. Insider – August 26, 2020 — The University of Illinois COVID-19 testing plan is so aggressive that it accounts for 20% of the state’s tests
  6. Crain’s Chicago Business — August 31, 2020 — Why the University of Illinois’ COVID test may have legs
  7. WLSD — September 3, 2020 — Durbin, Duckworth, LaHood & Davis Pen Letter to HHS To Deploy U of I Saliva-Based COVID Rapid Test
  8. The Daily Herald — September 9, 2020 — When will U of I’s saliva test see wider rollout
  9. WQAD 9 ABC — September 17, 2020 — University of Illinois to expand saliva-based COVID-19 testing platform nation-wide
  10. JAVMA News — September 30, 2020 — University of Illinois creates rapid saliva test for COVID-19 virus
  11. Chicago Sun Times — October 6, 2020 — To get out of this mess, we need bold thinking. Here’s what city leaders should do
  12. C&EN — November 1, 2020 — How one university built a COVID-19 screening system
  13. WMTV — November 5, 2020 — UW Madison to expand COVID-19 testing this spring
  14. WCIA — November 6, 2020 — Mobile laboratory able to “rapidly deploy” U of I’s saliva-based COVID-19 test
  15. The Doctors – November 6, 2020— Breakthrough COVID Testing Developed?
  16. The News Gazette — November 25, 2020 — ‘The SHIELD program lets us see the whole iceberg, not just the tip’
  17. Chicago Tribune — December 4, 2020 — University of Illinois’ COVID-19 saliva test reaches 1 million mark
  18. ABC 7 News — December 12, 2020 — Bloom Energy in San Jose builds new lab to expand COVID-19 testing
  19. Business Wire — December 14, 2020 — Bloom Energy and El Camino Health Deploy Shield T3 to Curb COVID-19
  20. NASDAQ — December 14, 2020 — Bloom Energy and El Camino Health Deploy Shield T3 to Curb COVID-19
  21. Patch — December 15, 2020 — University Of Illinois’ SHIELD Test Could Be Used At Other Colleges In Illinois
  22. Illinois Newsroom — December 25, 2020 — U Of I Needs FDA Authorization To Expand Access To COVID-19 Testing In Illinois
  23. WCIA — December 26, 2020 — SHIELD Illinois testing to expand to Northern Illinois University
  24. The Chicago Tribune – January 5, 2021 — University of Illinois’ COVID-19 saliva test moves closer to FDA approval, but not fast enough to meet the demand: ‘Every school district in Illinois would love to have this’