The COVID-19 global pandemic has inspired FAU School of Architecture professors, staff and students to put digital fabrication tools they have to work for the public good.
3D printers in their homes and on campus are helping meet the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) needs of civil and health-care professionals in Broward Country.
When they are not remote teaching students from their homes, Professors Jeffrey Huber, Andrew Hayes, Francis Lyn, Anthony Abbate, and Joel Hopler, fabrication laboratory coordinator, are making and distributing non-medical grade PPE – in this case plastic face shields and pseudo N95 respirators – and getting them directly to local agencies that need them most.
“We are utilizing our digital fabrication abilities with a consortium of architects, artists, and others across Broward to produce face shields and other critical PPE,” said Huber, who is Interim Director and Associate Professor of the School of Architecture. “The shortages are dire and when we speak with those on the front line of this pandemic it is clear there is substantial need. It is an honor that we at FAU can help in this small way.”
3D printers cannot make surgical masks or gloves, but they can print out hard plastics for face shield and pseudo N95 mask components.
FAU School of Architecture is not alone, other school and architects across the country have mobilized towards these efforts. Huber said their team is ramping up production and spearheading the mobilization efforts of the American Institute of Architects Fort Lauderdale Chapter and architecture firms across Broward to help.
“Already we have distributed over 200 face shields to organizations like Lighthouse of Broward County, Fort Lauderdale Fire Department, Broward Health and many others,” said Huber. “FAU Student Health Services is also using the PPEs we have produced with the Department of Visual Arts and Art History. We will be making deliveries of these face shields to Cleveland Clinic and Aventura Hospital as well. We will not stop producing and donating PPE until the pandemic is over or supplies have run out.”
Linda Johnson, Interim Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs for the Broward Campuses is proud of how everyone at FAU is working together during this crisis. “It’s higher education in action,” said Johnson. “Taking the skills from the classroom and connecting to those in the community who need help.”