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Update: GIX Makerspace Produces PPE for COVID-19 Response Effort

Date: May 05, 2020

An interdisciplinary team comprised of faculty, students, and staff from UW Medicine, UW College of Engineering, Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, Design that Matters, and the Global Innovation Exchange has been producing personal protective equipment (PPE) for the UW Medicine hospital system. Since March 30, the team of staff and student-workers at the GIX makerspace have produced more than 1,000 pieces of PPE like face shields cradles and no-touch door handles for the Steve Ballmer Building. The team is also printing and testing new PPE being developed by the global maker community.  

 “I didn’t expect to be doing this, but everyone is responding so quickly,” said Yun Liu, makerspace student crew. “We’re adjusting every day, and it’s great to be able to help.” Makerspace crew, led by Nick Ames and Paula Sigala, have been churning out PPE as quickly as they’re able to be printed. The face shields are then sanded, cleaned, sanitized, and packed for delivery to the medical professionals at UW Medicine.  

“People at the hospital are very excited about it,” said Harborview Emergency Department nurse Amy Leah Potter. “We can wipe them clean and let them dry, same as with our normal PPE, but we can also change [the transparencies] out if they get scratched or damaged, so it’s a lot more reusable.  It’s incredibly impressive that somebody came up with this to allow us to do our jobs better.”

Dr. Rob Sweet, Medical Director at UW Medicine Kidney Stone Center at NWH, has worked in concert with the various groups all working together on this project. “The work has been very impactful,” he said. “The shields went primarily to healthcare workings in the neighborhood clinics. It was an amazing and talented multidisciplinary effort.” 

More than $4,000 have been raised to support the production of PPE at GIX, including corporate gifts, individual contributions, as well as additional in-kind donations. “I wish we had more projects where we could galvanize a group like this around a common problem,” said Dr. Sweet. “We could solve a lot.”