See how Birmingham students are supplying healthcare workers with face shields

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Nurses enthusiastically hold two thumbs up after receiving their brand new face shields. Photo via Rita Goyal.

By now you’ve no doubt come across *inventive* ways people across the globe are combatting shortages of face masks while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Find out how students at The Altamont School in Birmingham have created the ultimate crafty solution.

Working With A Vision

Local healthcare worker staying protected on the job while wearing a brand new face shield.

While most teenagers in quarantine are catching up on the latest Netflix releases and learning Tik Tok dances, the tenth grader Meghan Goyal and ninth-grader Noah Warren have engineered new protective shields for healthcare workers throughout Birmingham. Oh and by the way–Meghan’s brother Shawn has been featured on Bham Now after similarly coming up with an original solution to a major world crisis! 

At the end of March, Meghan went to her computer science teacher, Ryan James, wanting to use Altamont’s 3D printer and laser cutter to create face shields to distribute to local hospitals. At the same time, Meghan’s friend Noah was working on his very own prototype that could convert full-face snorkel masks into medical-standard masks using 3D printed pieces. Snorkel masks? Genius!

Engineering From Home

Healthcare worker staying protected at work while wearing a face shield constructed by Meghan and Noah. Photo via Rita Goyal.

Mr. James, the computer science teacher, was eager to help these students get started. He taught them how to properly use the 3D printers while helping them every step of the way during their creative process. The design and construction procedure isn’t easy, it requires hours of troubleshooting and trial and error.

The trio did most of their communicating on video calls through Microsoft Teams. The process went a little like this–Noah received a 3D file and sent it to Mr. James on Teams, Mr. James then created a 3D printable file for their 3D printer. Next, the file was printed on the Lulzbot 3D printer and picked up by Meghan. She then arranged for the finished product to be picked up by Noah. 

James explained: “This is what I love about Altamont, two students reached out to me to help them come up with a solution to the N95 mask shortage. Working together, we have taken a difficult situation and turned it into a real-world learning and service opportunity”

Making an Impact

Local healthcare hero on the front line modeling his new protective shield. Photo via Rita Goyal.

Meghan Goyal expressed, “The most rewarding part of this journey is knowing that I am helping to protect our local healthcare workers.”

And that she surely has–the tedious work put in by Meghan, Noah, and Mr. James has paid off. The students have successfully modeled their face shields and distributed to nine locations across Alabama in: 

  • Organ-transplant wards
  • Diabetic patient wards
  • Cancer wards
  • OBGYN wards
  • Four emergency rooms
  • Two cardiology departments
  • Three pulmonary intensive care units
  • Infectious COVID-19 units
  • Locations nurses are testing patients for COVID-19

Seeing what Meghan and Noah have been able to do for their heroes on the frontlines is amazing and they are only getting started! Want to help support our local healthcare workers? Check out this piece with 7 ways to help healthcare + hospitality workers right now.

Now Birmingham, what other inventive ways have you seen people helping our community? Tag us on social @bhamnow and tell us!

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Grace Howe
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