At this time of year we would normally be bringing you news about our ADI mentors and their FIRST robotics teams. We would be sharing their successes and stories of how they increased efficiency, power or dexterity for their robots while munching on quesadillas (#2655) and jamming to the Red Hot Chili Peppers (#5902). The teams would be creatively approaching problems and finding solutions together. The FIRST Robotics competition has been understandably cancelled but that has not stopped the teams from doing what they do best, rising to a challenge.
Now more than ever we need to be fostering innovation to overcome current and future challenges. We have a medical supply shortage that is crippling the efforts of those on the front line fighting COVID-19. Volunteers around the globe are sewing masks and all who are able are stepping up to help. At this very moment ADI mentored teams 2655, 2471 and 5902 are using their skills to assist the medical community by designing and manufacturing simple face masks, face shields, and mask relief bands to ensure the health of those on the front lines.
New Hampshire team, #5902 The Wire Clippers, used FaceTime to pull folks together and tackle the set up of two donated 3D printers. The printers will be used to produce ear savers. Once printing was underway the discussion turned to where should they send the materials. ADI mentor Tim MacCannell told us, "When we discussed where to send what we were printing, we quickly realized that people on our team knew people who were front line healthcare workers. To keep things even more meaningful, we are donating to places and organizations with a need AND a connection with our team. Batches of 10 are being delivered today to a group of nurses in Boston, a local senior living center, a physical therapy company, a kidney dialysis nursing group and I’ll be shipping some to San Francisco General Hospital and Saint Francis Hospital in San Francisco (Alex, my wife, worked for many years at both and we still have friends working the floors there!). We don’t print 24 hours a day…but we are probably at 20 hours a day! As soon as the next batch of 10 (we can print 2 at a time) gets made, we will deliver them to those in need."
Feedback from a nursing friend: “Wow! That is so generous, yes we are wearing the N95 masks around the clock and our ears feel like they are falling off. We are desperate for PPE and are reusing our masks after daily use as the straps get worn they are very irritating to our ears. That is beyond kind and thoughtful.”
The Wire Cutters #5902 "ear savers"
The Flying Platypi team #2655, mentored by ADI employees Kristen and Juan Chong, Jerry Paul and Chas Frick, also answered the call to action. The North Carolina team purchased multiple sheets of 1/32 inch poly-carbonate to cut out simple face shields. The they also bought a few rolls of 3D printer filament to print out the face mask relief bands. Flying Platypi team member Kristen Chong had this to say, "We can fit 5 shields to one sheet and each sheet takes a few minutes to cut out. Between our two 3D printers, we can produce 16 bands every 90 minutes and they’ve been printing nonstop for the last couple of weeks. We’ve already used 3 rolls of filament. I’ve also been sewing masks out of scrap fabric I had laying around."
It is incredible to see these young women and men come together in the face of adversity to help others. STEM programs like FIRST are a road map to engineering. They help create the next generation of problem solvers by teaching necessary life skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, the value of hard work and empathy. We are so proud of the work our FIRST teams are doing to help front line medical workers. Together we can shape a new future.