I’m the president of FIRST Robotics Team 2471, which has students from a few local high schools. Normally we spend the spring working on a project for team competitions, but our competition season got canceled due to the virus.
Instead, we started making clear plastic face and eye shields for essential workers using 3-D printing, which uses a three-dimensional computer model to print a three-dimensional solid object.
We created programs for two types of face shields: one we call the Mandalorian, and another one we call the Stormtrooper, since they both look like something out of Star Wars. Later we combined the most popular parts of each model into a third version called the Vizsla.
The shields are actually pretty inexpensive to make; the state of Washington told us they were paying more than $2 per shield, and we can make one for $1.33. Crowdfunding, grants, and corporate donors pay for our materials. So far, we’ve delivered more than 22,000 shields to 97 different facilities, including hospitals, local care centers, and grocery stores.
Obviously, it’s really disappointing that we won’t have the chance to compete at the World Robotics Team Championships, but we now have all these great skills we’re using to make a difference in this time, which is really rewarding.
—As told to Emma Coburn