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Manufacturing in the Era of COVID-19: SME PRIME Schools Help Save Lives

SME PRIME - Pine Bush High School - 3D Printed Face Shields - Workspace - Kenneth Marshall website.jpgWith the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, career and technical education students at three SME PRIME® schools in Michigan, Illinois, and New York have experienced firsthand the importance of manufacturing to our nation and the world — and how their classroom studies and hands-on lab work relate to real-world challenges, and can even save lives.

In Michigan, members of Romeo High School’s robotics team — the Byting Bulldogs — have been helping first responders and other medical workers stay safe on the front lines by using 3D printers to make medical face shields. The project came about when RHS teacher and Byting Bulldogs coach Mike Savage was approached by a local fire department that needed help with face shields.


As of early April, the robotics team — working from their homes under Savage’s direction — had produced about 1,000 medical face shields for area hospitals, fire departments and EMS units. Starting out small, the project expanded into a larger effort thanks to the help of community members who wanted to lend a hand. It even caught the attention of actor/director John Krasinski, who gave the RHS crew a shout-out on his You Tube news program “Some Good News” (SGN).

Meanwhile, a similar scenario was taking place in Wheeling, Ill. It began when David Schuler, superintendent of the school district that includes Wheeling High School, was approached by employees at a nursing home, a grocery store and another school district — all of them wondering whether schools in his district could help with face-shield production.

In response, CTE teachers at WHS and another suburban Chicago high school stepped up to create face shields for those on the front lines of the coronavirus battle, spending their spring breaks designing a prototype for a protective face shield that they began producing in their homes with 3D printers. The shields will be distributed free of charge, locally and across the state, with assistance from the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.

SME PRIME - Pine Bush High School - 3D Printed Face Shields - Workspace - web.jpgTeachers at Pine Bush High School in New York have also been creating face shields for use in theircommunity, which has a large number of first responders and medical personnel. “We wanted to do something to give back,” said Aaron Hopmayer, principal of PBHS. After receiving permission from the district superintendent to take equipment off-site, Hopmayer and the school’s two technology and engineering instructors — Kenny Marshall and Patrick Reiser — loaded 11 3D printers and one laser printer into their vehicles, taking them to Marshall’s and Reiser’s homes. Since then, the teachers have been working 12- to 15-hour days printing the shields, using designs supplied by the school of engineering at the State University of New York (SUNY) New Paltz. As of April 16, Reiser and Marshall had produced more than 1,275 face shields in 11 days.

The SME Education Foundation is proud to support these SME PRIME® schools.  We salute them for their ingenuity and rapid response.  Their contribution to the national solution of protecting front line workers is both admirable and humbling.  Job well done!

Help Fund Manufacturing Education

You can help the Foundation reach its 90-day goal of raising funds to provide at least 2,500 students with online manufacturing education by donating to the SME Education Foundation’s COVID-19 Campaign.