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MPC Students & Faculty Find Creative Solutions Using Classroom Knowledge and Current Technologies

Post Date:03/24/2020 4:45 PM

Christopher-Salas-KSBWAs many individuals across the nation, and throughout the world, are trying to figure out what to do given the current pandemic crisis, several students and faculty members from MPC have banded together (virtually) to try to take steps to provide solutions. The problem-solving initiative was launched by the MPC Business & Entrepreneurship Club and supported by their faculty advisor, Bruce Barrie. Members of the club acknowledged the current challenges that our healthcare workers are facing, and decided to try to do something about it.

The Challenge

The United States is currently facing a huge shortage of N95 respirators which are essential protective gear for healthcare professionals who come in contact with viruses that can spread via airborne particles. These devices are designed to achieve a very close facial fit and can provide efficient filtration, vastly exceeding the protection of face masks. Efforts are underway by industry professionals to begin to mass-produce N95 masks, but it will take time for production to meet the current needs.

MPC Takes Action

MPC students learned about open-source efforts to help solve this medical equipment emergency through the use of 3D printers. They reached out to the Art Dimensional department for assistance, relying on their expertise and access to equipment. Department Chair, Gary Quinonez, was fully on board and contacted students in his program to assist.

“Our machines are perfect for this sort of thing. 3D printers print soft materials called PLA that can be heated with simple devices like a hairdryer and then conformed to an individual’s face, for a custom fit. Right now we have a group of about 14 people (all volunteers) working from morning until the evening, doing test 3D prints, sharing printer settings, checking fitment, researching potential materials for increased sanitization and longevity of use, and refining designs to see if we can come up with the best product and design to share with the medical staff on the front lines at our local hospitals.”

Next Steps
Since they started, there have already been important upgrades to existing open-source designs and the MPC team has created their own unique designs with improvements, as well. The students raised funds through a Go FundMe campaign and in just 48 hours, reached their goal. With that money, they began purchasing high-quality materials that meet the needs of the healthcare industry and are moving forward with the use of those materials as they prepare prototypes to provide to hospitals and healthcare facilities interested in MPC’s solutions. Just as the disease itself is a virus that is rapidly spreading, so is the hope that this creative solution will spread to other colleges so they can support their local hospitals and help fulfill these critical needs. For additional information, please see KSBW’s coverage by Christopher Salas.

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