May 1, 2020

Campus Faculty and Students Team Up to Make Face Shields and Masks

Laura Marrero, Inter-American Division News

Dozens of administrators and staff from the Adventist-owned University of Montemorelos in Mexico recently joined efforts to make hundreds of cloth masks and different types of face shields to assist those in the local hospital and also sanitation workers across the Montemorelos region in the state of Nuevo Leon. The initiative was part of a comprehensive effort that seeks to help in the fight against the coronavirus and mitigate the shortage of protective gear for essential workers in the community.

As of April 25, 2020, authorities had reported one positive case of COVID-19 in the Montemorelos municipal district. Nearby Monterrey and its metropolitan area had 207 confirmed cases. Monterrey is one of the five major regions in the nation being carefully watched for an increase in coronavirus infections.

More than 70 professors, engineers, medical professionals, health workers, architects, psychologists, administrators, and students at the university campus worked on sewing 365 surgical-type face masks. More than 340 face shields were printed on 3D printers.

“There are no professional machines here to make these face masks and shields, but plenty of volunteers willing to donate their time, effort, and resources to save lives,” said Rusbel Domínguez, a professor and main organizer of the initiative.

Part of the protective gear produced has been donated to health-care workers at La Carlota Adventist Hospital, the local Vision Institute, security staff, and students who perform their community hours in nearby hospitals and health institutions. Also, face masks and face shields were donated to local health-care providers and health workers.

Organizers said that the initiative has been accomplished thanks to the collaborative efforts of engineers who have researched and designed the printing of 3D face shields and accompanying visors as well as surgical-type cloth face masks.

It’s been all about designing and redesigning prototypes to optimize the time it takes to make each, Domínguez said. “What took four hours in the beginning to print a face shield visor, it’s now taking less than two hours,” he said.

“This is a time of uncertainty and solidarity, and it is also a time of ingenuity and creativity,” said Luis Fernando Garza, mayor of the municipality of Montemorelos, as he thanked the university’s faculty and staff for donated masks and shields.

Donations have fully funded the cost of the initiative, Domínguez said. The school is developing new projects for the next few weeks, and organizers have already launched a campaign to raise funds for the community impact, he added.

Upcoming projects include a new website to serve as a platform for soliciting support for the neediest age groups, a telephone hotline to offer family and psychological counseling, and more.

“What we want is to motivate people to develop products that are not merely for personal consumption but products to assist other people,” Domínguez explained. “The needs out there are many. If God puts a project to help others in your heart, then you must use your gifts and talents, take on initiatives, be more proactive and resilient, and show a positive attitude,” he said.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.