Faculty and Staff at Wentworth Producing Face Shields for Fight Against Pandemic

April 7, 2020

A man using a 3d-printing machine

Lead technician Ryan Bakinowski checks the first series of face shield headbands in the printing process at Wentworth. (Photo by Ryan Bakinowski)

By Dennis Nealon

A group of faculty members, lab technicians and staff at Wentworth Institute of Technology is producing face shields for Brigham and Women’s Hospital and its epic fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have innovative and creative people from science, engineering and design programs all collaborating on this,” said Sam Montague, chair of Wentworth’s Department of Industrial Design. “Everyone is very eager to use their expertise to help.”

Knowing the Institute has ample willpower, 3-D printers and laser cutters on campus, the Wentworth group began meeting virtually about two weeks ago to hatch the plan to alleviate a critical need for personal protective equipment (PPE) at area hospitals.  

“This project is part of Wentworth’s DNA,” said Monique Fuchs, associate vice president for innovation and entrepreneurship. “When the community has a need, the university mobilizes.”

She said the face shield collaboration involved stakeholders inside and outside the university, coming together in a time of crisis, with feedback and guidance from the Medical Academic and Scientific Community Organization (MASCO), Dana Farber Cancer Institute, the Association for Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (AICUM), elected representatives, City of Boston officials, and other colleges and universities.

Fuchs is a member of the Wentworth COVID-19 response group that includes Montague; Professor Simon Williamson from the Department of Industrial Design; Ryan Bakinowski, BMET '16, lead technician for Advanced Additive Manufacturing; David Mareira, executive-in-residence; and other faculty and staff.

“I’m really impressed with their work on this,” said Wentworth President Mark A. Thompson, “not only for the public service they’re contributing here, but for their determination to see this project through.”

Under normal circumstances at Wentworth, group members say, students would be on campus and might be leading such an effort, with faculty and staff advising them.

Brian Burns, Wentworth’s director of compliance and risk management, and Lynn McCormick, the university’s general counsel, addressed potential legal issues and helped clear a path for the project to proceed.

“We were fortunate that Wentworth’s planning group was able to connect with Brigham and Women’s, and that the hospital could accommodate the university’s needs," said Burns.

Bakinowski began the printing process on campus on Monday (April 6), using a design from the hospital. The shield headbands are being 3-D printed, and laser cutters are being used to make the plastic shields, he says. He expects that Wentworth can contribute at least dozens if not hundreds of the shields over time. Meanwhile, Williamson and other members of the planning group have formed an Advanced Design Team at the university that is continuing to address the PPE issue.

“We're working on an innovative face shield that will allow production times to be 1/10th of the time it takes to print and fabricate,” Williamson said. “We're also focused on the ability to maximize shipping capabilities, facilitating flat packing and simplified out-of-box construction.”

Members of the planning group included:

Design and Fabrication Team

  • Ryan Bakinowski, Laboratory Technician, Additive Manufacturing Center 
  • Simon Williamson, Faculty, Industrial Design 
  • Joe Stauss, Laboratory Technician, Industrial Design 
  • Aaron Double, Faculty, Industrial Design 
  • Chris Sledziona, Lab Supervisor, Architecture 
  • Rob Trumbour, Faculty, Architecture 
  • Gergely Sirokman, Faculty, Sciences 
  • Greg Affsa, Director, Accelerate  
  • Tory Lam, Assistant Director, Accelerate  
  • Jonathan N Unaka, Faculty, Architecture

External Outreach

  • David  Mareira, Executive in Residence, Business Management 
  • Monique Fuchs, Associate VP, Accelerate  
  • Brian Burns, Director of Compliance and Risk Management 
  • Lynn McCormick, General Council​

Read more about Wntworth's face shield efforts in the Boston Globe article. 

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