Kent State University’s Design Innovation Initiative Uses Creativity to Help Medical Professionals Fight COVID-19

Kent State University’s Design Innovation (DI) Initiative is responding to the COVID-19 crisis by prototyping and producing face shields and masks to help fill the gap being experienced by medical personnel on the front lines.

J.R. Campbell, director of the DI Initiative, is coordinating a team that consists of 25 faculty, staff and students from Kent State’s College of Public Health, College of Architecture and Environmental Design, University Libraries, Research Center for Educational Technology, as well as collaboration with the College of Aeronautics and Engineering and the College of Nursing.

The team is utilizing the 3D printing and laser-cutting resources in place at Kent State to produce much-needed and increasingly scarce personal protective equipment (PPE) to donate to Kent State's first responders at the Kent State Police Department and DeWeese Health Center. The remainder will go to the Cleveland-based nonprofit MedWish International, which will distribute the supplies to Northeast Ohio’s hospital workers and first responders who are in dire need. MedWish repurposes medical supplies and equipment.

The DI network of makerspaces has the capacity to quickly react to the local and critical need for PPE.

“Our current goal is to produce 2,000 face shields since we have received funding from both the United Way of Portage County and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation,” Campbell said. “We are not yet ready to say which versions/models of face masks we will be producing with which materials, but should be making those decisions soon.” 

Summa Health is testing several of the masks, Campbell said. In addition, a production company will be interviewing Campbell today about the efforts to produce the masks and how the team is using Microsoft Teams in this project. If the interview makes the cut, it may appear in a Microsoft commercial, he added.

The following faculty and staff have been leading the prototyping, modification and testing of open-source designs, as well as collaboration with College of Aeronautics and Engineering and the College of Nursing: Hilary Kennedy, manager of the Student Multimedia Studio and Spark Innovation Studio who leads multimedia and makerspace technologies at the University Library; Richard E. Ferdig, Ph.D., the Summit Professor of Learning Technologies and Professor of Educational Technology in the College of Education, Health and Human Services; Christopher J. Woolverton, Ph.D., professor of environmental health sciences in the College of Public Health and director of Kent State’s Center for Public Health Practice and Partnerships; and Kevin Pospichel, senior IT analyst in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design.

A current obstacle for the team is limited workforce to run the printers. If you have access to a 3D printer or similar tools and would like to assist in Kent State’s efforts to produce PPE, please contact J.R. Campbell at jrcamp@kent.edu.

POSTED: Thursday, April 9, 2020 - 11:38am
UPDATED: Friday, May 15, 2020 - 3:01pm
WRITTEN BY:
April McClellan-Copeland