• Paige Kornblue

Students step up to the plate to make PPE for hospitals

Reading, writing, arithmetic....and PPE. Young students from a Florida public laboratory school answer the nation's call for help by creating much-needed medical protective gear

BOCA RATON, FL -- Eighth grader Gavin Murphy has taken this 'learning at home' thing to a whole other level.

He is one of over a dozen A.D. Henderson University School (ADHUS) & FAU High School students who has acted quickly to create personal protective equipment, or PPE, from home.

ADHUS 8th grader, Gavin Murphy, creates PPE from home

Under the direction of The Cane Institute and school's district science coordinator, Allan Phipps, and middle school science teacher James Nance, the students have put aside their robotics, underwater remote vehicle and drone projects to create hundreds of 3D printed face shields, intubation chambers and ear savers for hospitals throughout Palm Beach County.

ADHUS & FAU High School STEM Coordinator, Allan Phipps

"I wanted to participate in making this PPE because I was already familiar with 3D printing and I wanted to help the doctors and nurses who are working tirelessly to help those in need" says Murphy.

Doctors and nurses across America have been pleading for help during this coronavirus crisis due to the huge shortage of personal protective equipment. PPE helps protect medical professionals from infectious diseases like COVID-19 by creating a barrier between the worker and the airborne infectious disease particles. Face shields are supposed to be worn with other forms of PPE, like N95 masks, but there still are not enough to go around. Meantime, the intubation chambers provide an added layer of protection and have holes one one side that allow health professionals to reach under the chamber to intubate patients.

Phipps says the ADHUS & FAU High students who have assisted with this PPE project range in age from 5 to 18. The volunteers are using 3D printers at home and then doing weekly social distancing 3D print drop-offs outside the school. Local hospital representatives later pick up the PPE and ear savers from the drop-off location.

Many small groups and individuals throughout the country are stepping up to the plate to help create or provide PPE, but not all individuals are as young as these Boca Raton manufacturers. And not all responded so early and so quickly.

"I first heard of the opportunity when my mom showed me a picture of Mr. Phipps printing the face shields... I emailed him asking if I could help," says Murphy. "I put in a few hours each day...I am probably at about 30 hours by now, " adds Murphy.

While ADHUS teachers have perfected the pivot from classroom learning to virtual instruction, STEM coordinator Phipps perfected the 3D printer pivot with the new printer placement - inside homes.

It all started before most of us were stocking our fridges and staying home from work. Giovana Jaen, a former FAU High student/current third year FAU Schmidt College of Medicine student, contacted Phipps about doing this for a local hospital and he agreed without hesitation.

Phipps and his team grabbed the 3D printers from school labs and quickly placed them in his garage and in the homes of students ready and willing to take on this PPE project.

Once a few students began helping, others asked to join in too. While Phipps and his young sons worked away out of their garage, some students... like 11th grader Maria Castro-Videla, took over their home's dining room tables.

"I have even got to build one of the 3D printers out of the box as we bought some more to mass produce for our healthcare workers everywhere. I am so excited to be a part of something good and helping those who are in need," says Castro-Videla.

A GoFundMe page has been created to help cover the material costs for A.D. Henderson University School & FAU High School's PPE project. If you would like to help these students help doctors and nurses in the fight against coronavirus, please click here to make a donation.

“I am so proud of our students for helping our community during this global pandemic,” says Phipps. “This has been a team effort from the start, and we are doing everything we can to support the medical professionals and our local hospitals during this crisis.” The Cane Institute for Advanced Technologies serves as ADHUS & FAU High's epicenter for research, education and technology transfer. The Institute allows students and faculty to zone in on cybersecurity, autonomous vehicles, robotics, virtual reality, augmented reality, automation and artificial intelligence.

Just steps from the ADHUS & FAU High School campus, their collegiate counterparts have also been busy providing PPE to medical facilities that need it the most.

The FAU College of Engineering and Computer Science and I-SENSE teams have created and turned out thousands of disposable face shields to local medical facilities including Baptist Health South Florida hospitals like Boca Raton Regional Hospital.

“We are incredibly grateful to FAU for its innovation and ability to provide this much-needed equipment to help protect our patients and employees,” says Samer Fahmy, M.D., vice president of quality and informatics at Boca Raton Regional Hospital.

Whether your children are manufacturing PPE for our medical professionals or simply creating drawings to mail to seniors at area nursing homes, it is remarkable to see some of our nation's youngest individuals making such a huge difference during this global pandemic.

My 'hats' off to them!

For more information on the ADHUS & FAU High School PPE project, click here.

#adhus_fauhs #faucaneinstitute #fau #cityofbocaraton #southfloridahospitals #paigekornblue #bocaraton #makingadifference #ppe #coronavirusaid #kidswhocare

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