The 3D printers normally used in Uxbridge High School's engineering classes are now humming along outside the classroom to help protect Massachusetts health care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"This is what we want learning to be. It's making the best of a really horrible situation, and I think it speaks to the willingness of a lot of people to just try and help however they can," said Uxbridge High School Principal Michael Rubin.
Rubin says the idea for the project actually came from a student.
The school got approval from the board of health to make and distribute face shields based off of programs now publicly available online.
"At this point, we're just playing 'connect the dots,' with who has printers, who needs files, who needs printer plastic, once they're done, who can go deliver them," said Uxbridge High School engineering teacher Michael Smutok.
Smutok now has two printers running simultaneously in his basement producing 16 face shields each day.
"This is just a clear transparency from school," said Smutok, "and these have been designed so they're three-hole punch."
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Smutok says it's a simple enough pattern, and he's already working in conjunction with other engineering teachers and students with access to 3D printers to expand it statewide.
"I was on a meeting this morning with Mass STEM Hub, working on curriculum that we can remotely teach the students using this real-world problem," said Smutok.
Rubin says while this is excellent from a learning standpoint, it's obviously much more than that.
"There aren't words, it's humbling, it makes me a little emotional," said Rubin. "It's not necessarily what we get in the business to do, and then, it's exactly what we got in the business to do."
Smutok says there's such a need, local health care workers are coming to his house to pick up masks as fast as he can make them.