Sheron Smith, Middle Georgia CEO

Friday, April 17th, 2020

Middle Georgia State University’s Center for Software Innovation is using high-end 3D printers to help create as many as 4,000 medical face shields for distribution to healthcare professionals at Robins Air Force Base, Houston Healthcare Center, and other facilities.

“The shortfall of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic is a critical issue that needs an ‘all hands on deck’ response,” said Dr. Alex Koohang, dean of Middle Georgia State’s (MGA) School of Computing. “The Center for Software Innovation on our Warner Robins Campus is using its 3D printing capabilities to help meet this need.”

Koohang said the initiative comes in response to a request from Lt. Col. Jay Vizcarra, the 461st Air Control Wing’s innovation chief. MGA faculty involved in the Center for Software Innovation are using 3D printers to create components – specifically the brackets on which the shields are mounted – needed to assemble the protective equipment. Face shields are personal protective equipment devices that are used by many medical, dental, and veterinary workers for protection of the facial area against sources of infection.

MGA’s partners in the effort – Robins AFB, Houston County Career Academy’s Firestarter FabLab, and Mercer University – are creating additional components.

Dr. Myungjae Kwak of MGA’s School of Computing faculty is overseeing the operation of 3D printers at the Center for Software Innovation, which was developed in partnership with Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex (WR-ALC) at Robins AFB to identify software development projects that will elevate regional companies, nonprofits, startups, and other organizations.

Plans call to distribute the assembled face shields throughout the state of Georgia, beginning with Houston Healthcare, Robins AFB medical facilities, and assisted living facilities in the area.

Once all the printers are up and running, MGA and its partners will be able to produce 126 medical face shields per week. If needed, as many as 4,000 medical face shields could be produced over the course of about seven and a half months.

School of Computing faculty and students donate their time to Center initiatives as a service to the region. Koohang said business partners and others help provide resources to help sustain the Center’s operations.