An unexpected end to the semester: WVU engineering student balances course load with creating protective gear for health care workers
When Logan Forquer began working in the Innovation Hub in January, he never imagined that he would be a part of a critical effort to supply personal protective equipment to local health care facilities in the state.
Forquer, an upcoming junior studying mechanical engineering at West Virginia University and student worker at the Innovation Hub, has had the unique opportunity to help the community by producing face shields for healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s bigger than anything I could have ever imagined,” Forquer said. “It’s been a great experience. I’ve learned how to use so many pieces of equipment we have at the Innovation Hub. It’s just been so great to help the community.”
The protective gear is made using a high-power Waterjet that cuts the components of the face shields from large sheets of polycarbonate.
Kelsey Crawford and Josh Bintrim, both Innovation Hub Shop managers, went through six different iterations with input from medical professionals at WVU Medicine before landing on a final design for the face shields.
The designs are saved in the Waterjet control instrumentation, making it easier to produce the headgear in a short amount of time.
Over the past month, Forquer has been able to produce anywhere from five to six hundred face shields in a single day, while also balancing five classes in the Statler College.
“I’ve probably made around four or five thousand face shields for the hospital. At times it’s been a little hard to keep track of what needs done for class, but it’s manageable because it’s all online,” Forquer said.
Forquer has his workstation set up to optimize his time working in the Innovation Hub. He figured out that by rigging a GoPro above the WaterJet, he can watch a live view of the machine on an iPad while working in the next room to assist other staff members in the Innovation Hub, or study for his final exams.
“The WaterJet has all kinds of fail safes,” he explained. “So, I’ve been sitting doing my homework while it’s running. I’m right there, so I can hear or see if anything goes wrong or if something needs changed. I can run over and do that really quick and get back to my homework.”
Forquer expressed that without the help of Todd Hamrick, a teaching associate professor of fundamentals of engineering, the high volume of face shields the Innovation Hub has produced would not have been possible.
While Forquer was cutting out the larger pieces needed to assemble the face shields, Hamrick was in another lab using a small routing table to produce a small attachment piece that was difficult to produce on the WaterJet. Forquer said that Hamrick would make at least 300 a day.
After school, Forquer hopes to continue working in a similar environment as the Innovation Hub.
“I think it’d be really nice to work in a shop like the Innovation Hub where I can put my engineering knowledge to use, design things and work with guys on the floor to make them,” said Forquer.
Bintrim, one of Forquer’s supervisors, commented on his work in the Innovation Hub.
“Logan has worked for me for over two years, he is a smart, dedicated and hardworking young man who has always risen to any challenge he has been given,” said Bintrim. “It has truly been a pleasure working with him and watching him come into his own as an engineer.”
The Innovation Hub is continuing its work to produce protective gear. They sent their face shield design to Techni Waterjet, the company that manufactures the jet used in the Innovation Hub, who plan to forward it to other companies who own the model in hopes that others can lend a hand worldwide.
Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit
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