Students and staff at the University of Tasmania are harnessing their significant technical capabilities to fight coronavirus, with a cross-disciplinary team constructing and assembling thousands of protective face shields for frontline medical workers.
A network of laser-cutting machines and 3D printers has been working from UTAS facilities in Hobart, Launceston and the Cradle Coast, as a core team of 30 UTAS staff as well as students supply Primary Health Tasmania and hospital staff.
Project lead, University College chief executive Lee Whiteley, said staff from University College, engineering, AMC, architecture and design, health and medicine and creative arts and media were involved in the UTAS effort, with students playing a vital role in the project.
“This is a whole of University effort, both cross-discipline and cross-state,” Mr Whiteley said.
“A number of technical staff are utilising their extensive experience with CNC routers, laser cutters, and 3D printers.”
Head of Architecture and Design, Professor Greg Nolan, said the university had sourced enough raw materials to produce about 3000 face shields, and highlighted the importance of involving student volunteers in the project.
“Students in Architecture and Design have a long history of involvement in learning-by-making projects,” Prof Nolan said.
“Helping to make the shields gives them the chance to play an active role assisting our health workers, and to display the technical and organisational skills they have learnt at UTAS.
“Student wellbeing has always been the highest priority for us.
“For students living by themselves during social isolation, this project provides the opportunity for them to come together and do something meaningful with people they know.
“Also, our students will be the professionals of the future. They need to know that they can get in there and make a difference.”
Image: School of Creative Arts and Media Technical Officers Peter Stannard (background) Phillip Blacklow (foreground)