Students use design and engineering skills whilst schools donate equipment to front line staff.
Technical schools across England are donating protective gear and using their specialist equipment to make face shields, to help protect NHS workers from coronavirus.
These schools, known as University Technical Colleges (UTCs), have stocks of filtering facepiece masks, and industry-standard 3D printing equipment, to deliver high-quality engineering qualifications in conjunction with hundreds of employers around the country.
In the past few weeks staff from 20 UTCs across the country, from Cumbria to Portsmouth, have turned their attention to supporting the NHS. As well as donating the specialist FFP3 masks, which protect NHS workers from coronavirus, and other much-needed gear, they have worked with local NHS trusts to 3D print the metal frames for protective visors to approved specifications.
Year 13 student from UTC Oxfordshire, Tom Pooley, is currently studying an Extended Diploma in engineering together with A level computer science and core maths. He decided to support the efforts personally by 3D printing from home:
“My mum is an NHS nurse and, having been a patient myself only a few months ago, I have a great appreciation for what NHS staff have to do. Having experience with 3D printing and seeing the current challenges faced by the NHS I decided now would be an ideal time to help them by aiding in the production of face masks for COVID-19 PPE. I hope by doing this I can help in the fight against COVID-19 but I’m also gaining experience of engineering and manufacture”.
“As a school with a strong focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects we knew that we could support our NHS frontline staff by providing essential PPE,” said Cherry Tingle, Principle of Energy Coast UTC in Cumbria. “We’re also extremely privileged to be in a position to collaborate with local organisations in the 3D printing of vital face shields.”
Lord Baker Chair and Founder of the UTC movement said:
“It’s fantastic to see UTCs taking the initiative and using the specialist equipment to help others in a time of crisis. UTCs foster innovation and it’s great to see our students using their technical skills and enterprising spirit for such a worthwhile cause. This is exactly what this country needs at the current time.”
Two UTCs have already had their designs signed off by their local health authorities, whilst a number are currently awaiting approval.