Two of the 3D printers and the materials to make face shields for healthcare workers fighting the pandemic in Ms. Budill’s garage.
Harnessing the Power to Do Good
When the coronavirus necessitated the closing of all schools in mid-March, Kristine Budill, who teaches engineering at School of the Holy Child, switched instruction gears quickly. “So did the girls,” she was happy to relate, in between virtual classes, in a phone interview.
That important mission accomplished, Ms. Budill turned her focus to helping those on the front lines fighting the rising pandemic.
“Through the school’s membership in the STEM Alliance, a nonprofit network whose aim is expanding STEM learning experiences for students in grades K through 12, we learned about Hack the Pandemic, a service organization created by a Mamaroneck High School sophomore, Jerry Orans, to help deliver critical supplies to the medical community,” she said.
One of those critical personal protective equipment needs is face shields. How do you make a face shield? You start with a 3D printer for the headband component, and Holy Child had five 3D printers. Ms. Budill brought all five of them home — with permission! — and set them up in her garage.
“Rather than leave the equipment idle, Holy Child fully supported harnessing the power of those 3D printers and providing the raw material for the headbands, PLA filament, to contribute to the initiative. The printers are running 15 hours a day, and in a little over two weeks we’ve (it takes a family to keep those printers running smoothly) produced 300 headbands,” she reported.
Holy Child Engineering teacher Kristine Budill
While it took close to three hours to make one of the first headband designs, said Ms. Budill, she is now producing a design that uses less material and takes about an hour to print.
The face shield is cut from 8.5” by 11” transparencies on a laser cutter to fit the headband. While Holy Child has a laser cutter, Macinspires, with whom the school is partnering, is cutting the transparencies for the headbands.
To date, the face shields have been sent to Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, Northwell Hospital ER on Staten Island, Montefiore Medical NICU in the Bronx, as well as Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and MedStar Washington Hospital Center.
Once Holy Child’s supplies are depleted and if the need continues, STEM Alliance will organize more funding.
“The mission at Holy Child is to develop ‘women of conscience and action’,” said Ms. Budill, “and the school community, from current students to alums, faculty and parents, is involved in a myriad of volunteer efforts — sewing masks, providing meals to hospital workers, and writing thank-you notes to healthcare workers.”
Maggie Robinson, class of 2021 has started M.O.R.E. (Mask Our Responders Effort), a drive dedicated to collecting and distributing masks to medical caregivers.
Alums Maeve Cambria, Maddy Cohen, and Katie Simons, all members of the class of 2015, have joined Fordham Prep alum Richard Hurely at Fuel the Fight (Westchester), an organization that partners with local restaurants struggling to survive to provide local hospitals with catered meals for healthcare professionals working on the frontline of COVID-19. Their classmate, Molly O’Neil, and her brother Sam, another Fordham Prep alum, have organized the Denver chapter.
This school year, Ms. Budill has 33 juniors and seniors in her engineering classes, and what she wants her students to learn through their participation in the program “is that the primary goal of engineering is to improve our world. Our juniors are beginning an engineering design challenge to conceive of a product, technology, or system that could improve safety or quality of life during this pandemic.
“We hope that our students will see the need to apply technology to make the world a better place and be inspired to study engineering and go on to work on some of the biggest challenges facing our world,” she offered.
- Robin Jovanovich