April 29, 2020
Wheaton Academy Students Produce Life-Saving Masks
Wheaton Academy student makers are tackling real-world problems and helping to produce life-saving personal protective equipment (PPE) for local healthcare heroes.
The idea for this project sparked when Mr. Burick shared an article with students in his Engineering Design class. The article described how people in the maker community are stepping up to produce N95 masks and face shields for health care providers. Peter Sorenson ’21 immediately began to research how Wheaton Academy makers could get involved.
Peter found a design for a face shield that could be produced using the Academy’s 3D printers. It was simple to make and approved by various health departments around the world, so Peter and his team, Robert Dieter ’21, Josh Brunner ’21, and Brenden Maucieri ’23, took printers home and began making the shields.
In the meantime, Mr. Burick was contacted by two healthcare professionals, Chuck Sahly, a nurse at Central DuPage Hospital, and Dr. Dave Hulsey, a doctor at a hospital in Sterling, IL. With their connections to Wheaton Academy, they wondered if the school would be able to help provide PPE in light of the current shortages.
Under Mr. Burick’s guidance, Peter’s team moved forward with production. Peter describes the process like this, “Working from home means that I do not have access to all of the tools in the IDEA Lab, but it also means that I can make sure that the 3D printers have almost 100% uptime, producing parts around the clock. Even though our team working on the project does not meet together, I am able to receive troubleshooting help and ideas from the other students and Mr. Burick using the online platform Discord.”
Once the face shields are printed and assembled by students, Mr. Burick delivers them to Dr. Hulsey and Mr. Sahly for distribution at hospitals. The Wheaton Academy makers team has produced more than 100 PPE shields since starting production.
Mr. Burick shares, “I tell students all the time that in the IDEA Lab, we have the tools to create innovative solutions to real world problems. It is awesome to see students embracing that mindset and taking action! We have been blessed with some amazing tools—it is a no-brainer to use them to serve in this way.”
The 3D printers in the IDEA Lab are just one component of Wheaton Academy’s MASTER Program. The program provides students with cutting edge opportunities in robotics, technology, engineering, and laboratory research with the goal to train students as leaders who have the skills to serve as God’s people in some of the world’s most innovative fields. Peter and his team are taking the program’s focus on student projects in a life-saving direction.
As Peter reflects on his role, he shares, “When I learned that I could help provide necessary PPE in short supply, I was instantly on board. This project brings together so many areas of engineering that I love including design, additive manufacturing, material science, and testing. This project has become one of the most meaningful and rewarding projects I’ve worked on.”
Students throughout the MASTER program accomplish incredible things. Download our MASTER Program booklet to learn about our MASTER curriculum courses, electives, and activities.