University Outfits Local Hospitals With 70 Much-Needed Respiratory Masks
CHARLOTTE AMALIE — In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) has extended a philanthropic hand by producing 3-D respiratory masks.
Personal protective gear is a scarce commodity, as the rapidly spreading Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) continues to wreak havoc the world over.
To date, the University has produced at least 70 3-D respiratory masks and distributed about 67 to hospitals and other community locations across the territory.
“The need we are addressing is a worldwide need during a worldwide crisis,” UVI President David Hall said. “Though the masks and shields are primarily for the Virgin Islands, what we are doing as a University speaks to our global mission and calling to “serve the world.”
Hall said UVI is a proud member of the U.S. Virgin Islands community.
“The University is an integral part of this community and I am proud to be part of its quick response to the community’s needs. David Morris, professor in the College of Science and Mathematics, UVI student Kedisha Charles and I have all been 3-D printing since that first call by Dr. (Cora) Christian and we will continue to do so until this crisis is behind us,” said Timothy Faley, professor in the School of Business and special assistant to the president of UVI.
Faley said UVI took their cues about what to do based on the response to the virus in Middle Europe.
“Especially now when the Center for Disease Control is recommending that we do as countries like the Czech Republic have done and have everyone wear a face mask, it is important to give people options to help flatten the curve of COVID-19,” Faley said.
These masks should be used in addition to other virus-mitigation strategies such as social distancing, frequent handwashing, etc., when equipped with appropriate filter elements, he said. The user should not relax those virus-mitigation standards when using this mask.
“In this challenging time, it is so inspiring that members of this community continue to rise up and be of assistance to those in need,” President David Hall said. “This is the strength and beauty of this special institution and the people who make it special. When we created the Innovation Centers many years ago, we had no idea that the equipment we purchased would help save lives. This is a reminder that if we invest in our future today, we will save our future tomorrow.”
Hall said that UVI staff and students are the embodiment of ingenuity.
“This is another example of the innovative spirit we have been cultivating at UVI for some time now, and it combines with the spirit of service that has been here for a long time,” Dr. Hall said. “Together these two values allow the University to excel and contribute to the Virgin Islands and the world. I am especially proud of all those who stepped up to this challenge and met this need.”
The university president said that imparting the learning skills to be creative and adaptive is part of the core curriculum at UVI.
“The Innovation Centers, which were created to inspire our students to be more creative and to have a place to transform ideas into products, has now become a mission of mercy during one of the most critical challenges in our lifetime,” Hall said. “If we can help protect people during this crisis that is taking precious lives away from us, then there is no limit to what our innovation can do to transform this University and the world.”
The 3-D respiratory masks are being produced by 3-D printers housed in the Innovation Centers (one each campus) and the Physics department.
UVI launched two innovation centers in January 2016 (one on each campus). These centers provide the space to encourage “creative collisions” – a place for students to meet and discuss ideas.
The centers are outfitted with equipment to help students collaborate and create rapid prototypes.
Each center is equipped with computers, a 3D imaging camera, a 3D printer, white boards and configurable furniture.