The Mequon-Thiensville School District is supporting the efforts of first responders and healthcare professionals during the current public health emergency by using 3D printing technology to produce components for respirator masks.
Homestead High School social studies teacher Joe Ciurlick and engineering teacher Jeff Patterson recognized that the technology typically used in the science and technology curriculum at Homestead had the potential to serve a critical role in the pandemic. Their good idea got off the ground when MTSD Executive Director of Instructional Technology and Continuous Improvement Systems Lauren Croix found an opportunity to collaborate with nearby Concordia University.
“We are really proud of our ability to use the resources we had available at Homestead to be of service to those on the frontlines of the pandemic,” said Croix.
Patterson and Ciurlik set up 5 printers in Ciurlik’s basement in early April and got straight to work printing plastic components for respirator masks. It takes about ten to twelve hours to print each component, and Ciurlik and Patterson will keep printing as long as they have plastic. The pieces they produce are then assembled with other components including a silicone gasket, head straps, and a 5-layer filter sandwich. Concordia University and its team of medical students and volunteers are producing the other pieces and assembling the final product, which will then be delivered to medical providers, first responders, and municipalities with support from local police departments.
“I feel that it is my responsibility to contribute to the needs of the community,” said Ciurlik. “As Margaret Mead famously quipped, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’”
The district has also donated a variety of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the Mequon Fire Department in an effort to ensure local responders are appropriately protected when responding to calls during the widespread coronavirus pandemic. Adequate PPE has been in short supply at emergency and medical facilities across the nation, adding stress and concern to an already dire situation in many areas.
“It remains essential that we work as a community to support one another,” said Matthew Joynt, Ph.D., superintendent of schools. “The more we can do now to help professionals on the front lines of this pandemic, the sooner we can hope to return to a life of more normalcy. We all need to do what we can.”