A student-driven research and development center at Mt. San Jacinto College’s Menifee Valley satellite campus is producing custom-made face shields for healthcare professionals who are on the front lines trying to contain the novel coronavirus.

The college’s Eagle MarkerSpace began turning out the products, considered part of the inventory of “personal protective equipment” that’s essential in emergency rooms and clinics to mitigate COVID-19 exposure, earlier this week.

The shields, which resemble a welder’s face cover but are clear plastic and can be used in conjunction with surgical masks, are already on order from Providence Health, Riverside Community Hospital and Temecula Valley Hospital, as well as other providers, according to campus officials.

There is no charge for them.

“We were honored to be able to help our medical partners, who indicated they had a need for these types of items,” said Joyce Johnson, the college’s executive dean of instruction and a registered nurse.

“The school closures mean our students cannot use this equipment at this time,” she said. “We wanted to make sure we did our part to help protect medical professionals and patients alike during this pandemic.”

The Eagle MakerSpace is a state-funded program and designed to encourage technical careers.

Researchers are utilizing 3D printers and a laser cutter to manufacture the masks. Additionally, the college has been donating gurneys, N-95 masks, nitrile gloves and related gear from its nursing program to supplement area hospitals’ supplies.

“I’m excited and grateful to be a part of the … MakerSpace support of my healthcare colleagues on the front lines of this COVID-19 pandemic,” said MakerSpace specialist Hal Edghill. “The proportions of this challenge are daunting, and keeping doctors, nurses and all other professionals as safe as possible is the goal.”

He said the visors are composed of polylactic acid plastic designed by the MakerBot 3D printers. A reinforced rubber band is used to fit the each cover over the head.

The college is accepting donations to help with the production effort. They can be made via www.msjc.edu/foundation.

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