FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2020
Makerspace uses 3D printers & laser cutters to generate ear guards
AVONDALE, ARIZONA, May 14 – Estrella Mountain Community College’s (EMCC) makerspace, The STEAM Engine, has been busy! The STEAM Engine is making ear guards to donate to front-line workers to help alleviate the irritation of wearing face masks for several hours and days at a time.
“We identified early during the COVID-19 Pandemic that critical personal protective equipment (PPE) would be in short supply, but we also learned that in many cases, the PPE provided to front-line medical workers is uncomfortable and/or fits improperly,” said Tim Wilson, who manages the makerspace. “Uncomfortable and improperly fitting PPE compromises the integrity of the PPE and puts front-line medical workers at risk of infection. The STEAM Engine staff learned of a solution to this problem: ear guards.”
Ear guards are small devices that attach to face masks instead of ears. They increase the comfort of wearing face masks and provide an adjustable means to keep the masks tight and secure.
Since production began a little over 3 weeks ago, the STEAM ENGINE has produced and donated more than 7,000 ear guards. Wilson’s staff supports him virtually by developing and modifying designs from home while he uses 3D printers and laser cutters in the STEAM Engine to fabricate the guards. He then completes the processing at home with his children.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands and helping others, and it’s been wonderful to watch my children share in that joy,” Wilson said. “We know how hard everyone on the front lines is working to keep us all safe and we’re hopeful that this small token will take some of the discomfort out of their day.”
The ear guards are being donated to several different medical and emergency-service providers in our community, including Banner Estrella Medical Center, the Goodyear Police Department, and the Phoenix Fire Department.
This has been a team effort and several from EMCC have played critical roles in bringing this project to life.
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Estrella Mountain Community College is one of the ten colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District, one of the largest community college districts in the nation. EMCC offers academic courses leading to associate degrees, university transfer, certificates, and short-term job training to more than 14,000 students annually. The flagship campus is located on Thomas and Dysart Roads in Avondale. Classes are also offered online and at two Buckeye locations: EMCC’s Buckeye Educational Center, located in downtown Buckeye, Arizona, and at the EMCC @ West-MEC Southwest Campus at 500 N. Verrado Way.