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District student trainees lend helping hand during COVID-19 pandemic

Published May 4, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, several Louisville District personnel deployed to support construction efforts throughout the states.

Engineering Division co-op’s Emily Walter and Ellie Hagan volunteered their free time to wash, assemble and bag face shields, which were provided to medical staff at the University of Louisville Hospital, Norton and Baptists hospitals. 

The face shields were also given to local first responders and to front liners in North Carolina and Illinois. 

“Hundreds of UofL engineering students have been working in shifts, 16 hours per day, seven days a week to send out about 6,000 face shields each day,” said Josh Mudd, Engineering Division Structural section chief. “When the word was spread that supplies were running low, other Louisville District staff including Gary Grunwald, Sean Tucker, Todd Chandler and Marcus Doddridge jumped on the opportunity to donate their personal time and resources by printing the much needed parts with their personal home 3D printers.”   

University of Louisville Speed School students received an email at the beginning of April asking for volunteers to help with the effort, according to Walter.

“UofL’s Additive Manufacturing Institute of Science and Technology had begun using their 3D printers to fill the gap in medical supplies for local hospitals while larger companies were ramping up large-scale production,” Walter said. “They were printing the headbands and bottom reinforcement pieces for clear plastic face shields, and they were requesting help with disinfecting and assembling all these shields. AMIST was also requesting help from individual community members in 3D printing smaller pieces – this is what Gary Grunwald, Sean Tucker, Todd Chandler and Marcus Doddridge helped us with, using their own 3D printers and materials.”

In the end, with student’s support like that provided by Walter and Hagan, AMIST donated more than 55,000 plastic face shields to front-line medical professionals.

“I was excited to be able to help in any way possible,” Hagan said. “My father is a physician, and he has been working on the front lines, so I jumped at the opportunity to help him and other healthcare workers in any way shape or form.”

Both women said they were thankful for the opportunity. 

“We, as the student volunteers were a small part of the very large effort that went into supplying hospitals with these face shields,” Walter said. “For me personally, I was just grateful to be able to do something to help. I have family members who work in hospitals in Cincinnati and really acutely felt the burden of the personal protective equipment shortage that they and so many medical professionals have been experiencing. It was amazing to step back after the rush of orders in April and recognize that we were able to be a small part of that tremendous effort to keep as many front-line medical professionals safe as possible.”