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Mechanical engineering alumnus helps make face shields for NY hospitals

Andrew Ziemer ’19 is helping the doctors and nurses who are facing supply shortages of personal protective equipment. Working around state orders to remain indoors during the health crisis, Ziemer is part of a team that is 3D printing face shields that are being donated to local New York hospitals — all from the safety of home.

Working remotely with leaders from Discovery Camp, a summer program in Hawthorne, NY that explores topics in science, technologies, arts, and sports, the team is using open-sourced design files to print and assemble protective equipment for medical professionals.

“We have been producing components in our homes,” Ziemer says. “We have 40 3D printers and two laser cutters running around the clock.”

It takes roughly three hours to print one face shield, with full assembly taking minutes once the pieces are completed. More than 500 face shields have already been finished, with plans to produce 1,000 more based on their current supply of materials. Donations are being made to Montefiore Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, and Westchester Medical Center.

“We are blown away by the selflessness of our nurses, doctors, and first responders,” Ziemer says. “It broke our hearts to know they didn’t have the personal protective equipment they deserved. We self-funded the start of the project to order all the raw materials, including filament and sheet stock plastic. We want to help in any way we can.”

As a mechanical engineering alumnus, Ziemer, who has taught classes on laser etching and building computers for Discovery Camp, was able to apply the knowledge and skills he learned in the engineering labs at TCNJ to this mask-making endeavor. He hopes the simple design of the provides relief to those working on the front lines.

“We are honestly elated to hear reports from people wearing them,” he says. “Nurses and doctors mention the peace of mind they have behind the visors. We really feel so fortunate to have the technology and skills to do what we can.”

— David Pavlak

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