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Florida Tech is using 3D printers to make face shields for health workers. Members of the team leading the effort include, from left, Marco Carvalho, Juan Avendano Arbelaez, Deep Patel and David Beavers.

Coronavirus in Florida

Florida Tech group uses school resources to fabricate face shields for health care workers

The team is using 3D printers to produce in-demand PPE.

Professors at the Florida Institute of Technology are using 3D printers to make face shields for frontline workers on Florida’s Space Coast.

Melbourne campus College of Science and Engineering Dean Marco Carvalho, Student Project Coordinator Juan Avendano Arbelaez, lab director Deep Patel and electronic lab manager David Beavers have produced and delivered dozens of shields to area hospitals made from printers spread out throughout the school’s campus.

Students were also engaged in the production process and helped respond to feedback from health care workers about the shield’s design, making modifications the same day.

“It was very rewarding to see the appreciation of the heath workers who received these,” Carvalho said. “I’m extremely proud of our Florida Tech team that, without hesitation, jumped into action to work days, nights and weekends to help our community.”

Workers at Florida Tech also worked to provide face mask extensions for a team of respiratory therapists and helped design, test and produce various face mask prototypes, including masks that can be sized for children and reusable masks that have an interchangeable filter.

The group operated under design guidance from the Billings Clinic in Montana, which outlined the production process. However, educators at Florida Tech applied some of their own innovation including a design under consideration for an ultraviolet mask that would draw airborne virus particles to the mask when the wearer breathes, potentially killing the virus through an electrical charges.

“I’m amazed by our students almost on a daily basis,” Beavers said. “We have some of the most creative people I’ve ever seen in my life. It really is amazing some of the ideas they come up with.”

The school said it could only produce a modest amount of face shields at the small campus, but hope the contribution is meaningful to the health care community.

“If you can deliver even a couple dozen to a medical facility, an intake, or one of these testing centers where they’re constantly exposed, or even to a local business, it makes a difference,” Beavers said.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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