SAU freshman electrical engineering student Noah Waldron is using his talents and education to make a difference for those on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. Making use of the 3D printer he created in his first year of the engineering program at SAU, Noah has printed more than 300 plastic headbands, which modify face masks to increase comfort, for the healthcare staff at Henry Ford Allegiance Health.
Noah’s mother works for Henry Ford Allegiance Health. Like many other medical professionals, she and her coworkers feel the pressure of trying to stay safe while caring for patients.
“My mom brought up an issue of the masks not fitting securely to the face and mentioned how they put a lot of pressure on the ears,” says Noah. “Sending some examples, she asked if I could create a headband that addressed these issues to make the mask-wearing experience more comfortable.”
While other bands are crocheted or sewn and feature buttons around which ear loops can be hooked, the bands Noah makes are unique to his particular interests. Produced on his 3D printer, they are made of black, flexible plastic and feature notches on each end that allow the wearer to personalize the fit of their mask. Noah’s first batch was small, only 10 bands, which his mother quickly handed out. The next batch was much larger, and it wouldn’t be his last. Noah shares that, despite their lengthy printing process (about five hours for nine bands) he plans to keep printing the bands so long as they are needed.
“The staff at the hospital are working hard to keep us safe in the fight against COVID-19,” says Noah. “Printing the headbands is one small way that I can use my skills and resources to give back.”
According to Ron DeLap, Dean of the School of Engineering at SAU, all freshmen in the program are required to build a 3D printer for use during their time in the department. When Noah built his printer, he never expected to use it to fight a worldwide pandemic just months later. That all changed in mid-March when COVID-19 began to shut down all but the most essential services.
“I had no clue I would be helping out in such a major way,” says Noah. “I originally expected to only use the printer for projects and parts we designed in class.”
Noah’s first year of college may not have gone as planned, but he feels he’s making the most of it. “if I can’t be at school, it feels good to be helping my mom and her staff,” he says.