A campus building that’s usually abuzz this time of year with the sound of students recently found itself filled with a sound more reflective of the times: 3D printers cranking out face shields to help local folks protect themselves from COVID-19.
A team from Innovation and Entrepreneurship has been working in a prototyping lab inside Foisie Innovation Studio with 25 of the printers, creating more than 550 National Institutes of Health (NIH)-approved shields to be donated this week.
"At WPI, we have an amazing community of innovators and problem solvers with access to advanced tools and technology," says Mitra Anand, makerspace technician with the Innovation & Entrepreneurship (I&E) Department. "With the apparent global shortages and the growing need for PPE in our local medical community, we decided to put our collective resources to use and explored ways to make a meaningful impact during these unprecedented times.”
The team also includes Adam Sears, manager, Foisie Makerspace; Erica Stults, application scientist, Academic and Research Computing, IT; Donna Levin, I&E executive director; Sia Najafi, executive director, Information Technology; Lusine Baghsarian, I&E executive assistant; and Kristie DeJesus, I&E senior associate director of entrepreneurship.
“We’ve been having daily Zoom briefings since March, initiated by Donna Levin,” says Baghsarian. “The team decided producing face shields was an effective and impactful option to support our local community deal with PPE shortage.”
"The group established a quality control protocol aimed at safely fabricating, handling, and shipping the shields—and then began production,” Anand says.
It’s yet another example of WPI faculty and staff helping the community through these tough times.
"A multidisciplinary team innovating in the face of a global challenge—this is what I&E is all about,” Anand says. “We plan to continue making these shields as long as there is a need in our community.”
-By Lauren Borsa Curran