LSU professor, students create PPE equipment in at-home 'warehouse'
BATON ROUGE – With classes move online, many professors and students are adjusting to the new 'classroom' environment. One group has found a way to avoid being cooped up, making protective equipment for medical workers.
Dr. Wayne Newhauser, an LSU physics professor, has turned his driveway and garage into a warehouse. Students and volunteers now use the space to make supplies and prototypes of PPE that will then be shipped off to hospitals in both New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
“It’s making me feel like I have something to contribute, which everybody does,” said Megan Moore a biological engineering student.
Moore, also the assistant director at the stem lab for St. Joseph’s Academy, was loaned a laser cutter that she is now using to make parts for face shields that health officials can wear under their typical N-95 masks.
“We’ve talked with a lot of specialists, we’ve talked to ER and OR specialists in New Orleans and Baton Rouge who have been trying on the equipment and giving us little pointers,” said Moore. “We’ve taken the initial prototype and have made it more efficient and more comfortable.”
The group is also making protective gown templates and ventilator parts.
The goal is to provide supply kits so that anyone at home can put together the equipment.
"As long as they can download the template online and watch the instructional videos we are posting then they can learn to do it themselves, and go to Walmart and buy the materials," said physics student Maxwell Cole.
Though it’s not in a classroom setting, Cole says it’s a learning experience.
“It’s kind of learning on the job,” said physics student Maxwell Cole. “In the real world, you’re not going to have a textbook you have to figure it out yourself. So that’s a good quality to have to teach yourself how to do things.”
Many businesses have already donated supplies. Lamar Advertising is donating vinyl billboards that will be used to make gowns, Exxon Mobil has supplied technical needs and many LSU schools are delivering any extra materials that can be used.
“I don’t think anyone expected that,” said Cathlin Disotell, an LSU renewable natural resources graduate. “All of a sudden it was like we're going to do this, we're going to send these out and make it happen. People were ready to help and that was great."
The group that is already working with local surgeons and respiratory specialists, is also looking to bring in a public-private partnership to further their efforts.
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