SIUE School of Engineering makes face shields, donates to police department

SIUE police officer Katie Kircher tries on a face shield as Sgt. Dan Murphy watches.The School of Engineering’s Jagath Gunasekera and Brent Vaughn delivered the personal protective equipment.

The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Engineering has donated 50 protective face shields to the SIUE Police Department and has plans to provide the critical personal protection equipment to Anderson Hospital next week.

Engineering school Lab Manager Jagath Gunasekara and Brent Vaughn, lab specialist and lecturer in the Department of Civil Engineering, delivered the face shields.

“The SIUE Police Department thanks SIUE Engineering and Dean Karacal for making and outfitting the SIUE police officers with the much needed face shields” Police Chief Kevin Schmoll said. “The face shields will allow our officers to do their jobs knowing they have all the PPE needed to keep them safe during this pandemic.”

 “The school has quite bit of technical know-how and fabrication equipment, including a set of 3D printers to make protective face shields,” Dean Cem Karacal said. “Through the dedicated work of lab managers Brent Vaughn and Jagatah Gunasekera, we were able to try alternative designs, select one and quickly make test production runs. This was an excellent example of university-community collaboration when circumstances required us to pull our expertise and resources together to help each other.”

Vaughn said conversations began in late March among engineering and Biological Sciences faculty regarding their 3D printers to produce PPE for nearby hospitals and first responders.

“Through those collective ideas, we chose to focus on a face shield design (attribution to IC3D Inc. and Budmen Industries) that had been reviewed by National Institutes of Health to meet FDA requirements for production of protective face shields,” he said.

The school’s next effort will be in assisting Anderson Hospital.

“After having several communications with Madison County Emergency Management Director Tony Falconio, I contacted Anderson Hospital Risk Management,” Karacal said. “They were looking for protective face shields, as well. We are going to donate 60 units on Monday (April 27).”

Karacal said finding the plastic sheet is the major challenge. 

“As soon as we secure more plastic sheets, we plan to make additional batches for the hospital and for the police department, if they need more.”

A significant donation from Narayan Bodapati, former chair of the SIUE Department of Construction, is greatly assisting the effort.

“Dr. Bodapati is a well-known name in this area’s construction circles,” Karacal said. “When he heard about our attempt to help with the crisis, he donated $10,000 to the school, so we could buy three additional 3D printers to increase production. His donation was quite meaningful and timely.”

Vaughn said when the additional printers are put into service, production capability will be 200 face shields per week. The two original 3D printers could produce four face shield frames at once. In addressing the shortage of plastic sheet, they have learned that certain report cover material, that is more readily available, will also meet the requirements.

Once the crisis is over, the additional 3D printers will be put in service in the Nidec 3D and Electronics lab of the engineering school’s Fowler Student Design Center.

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