head shots of six high schoolers against a backdrop of 3D-printed masks on a table

Charles J. Colgan Sr. High School sophomores kicked their small 3D-printing business into high-gear, and a Woodbridge High School teacher is working in his home basement to help in the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus. They are making 3D-printed masks for local first responders.

Max Lawson and Ethan Carr received a request for 3D-printed masks from a local doctor and PWC School Board Chairman, Dr. Babur Lateef. They enlisted the help of fellow classmates Solomon Ralston, Caleb Bock, Michael Kreider, and Aiden Patterson to help boost production. Within a few days, the 3D-printing team made and delivered 151 face shields and over 81 N95 face mask extenders.

"Each of us can make a difference, and these boys are leading the way," said Lateef.

Ethan/Max Printing (EMP) is the company and backbone of this initiative. The company was started in 2017 when the students decided to start a business making the popular toy, fidget spinners. They are both enrolled in Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program offered at several PWCS high schools. This engineering program is nationally recognized. It offers an enriched sequence of courses to prepare students for college level engineering courses

With the help of their parents and over $3,000 in community donations, the team was able to purchase printer filament and other needed supplies to continue to fill requests for nursing homes, the airline industry, and other medical facilities.

From the basement of his home, Woodbridge High School Teacher Carlos Castro is also producing 3D-printed masks. He is using printers built by the school's robotics team. Funds received from a GoFundMe campaign were used to build two additional printers. The two newest printers were given the names Hope and Charity. They join Dave, Ryoko, and Felix, who are hard at work printing masks.

Castro is humbled to see how fast his fundraiser reached the goal of $3,000 for the purchase of supplies to make masks, mask buckles and face shields. He has made 50 masks and 25 face shields for PWCS School Food and Nutrition Services employees and has made 250 face mask buckles for the PWCS Police Department to use when they need to wear a mask for an extended period of time. Currently, he is filling a request for an Army medical team and a medical facility. His items are available at no cost to those who need them.

"By each of us doing our part, either as a frontline responder, an essential worker or just staying home, we will get through this," Castro said.