Florida International University 3D-printed face shields initiative expanded to help local firefighters


FIU’s College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA) has expanded its initiative to produce 3D-printed personal protective equipment (PPE) for those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. This initiative is led by John Stuart, CARTA associate dean of cultural and community engagement and executive director of Miami Beach Urban Studios’ Innovation Lab, with the help of students and faculty from other FIU colleges, units, and departments.

The expansion of the 3D-printed protective face shields initiative is supported by a gift from FIU President’s Council member Angela Martinez and FIU alumnus Raul Chavez ’80. With their gift an additional 1,000 protective face shields were printed and assembled at the university’s Innovation Lab for local fire-rescue departments. The shields were transferred to the City of Miami and Miami-Dade fire and rescue departments on April 17.

The nationwide shortage of PPE is an issue close to the couple’s hearts. Chavez, an alumnus of the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences, worked for fire-rescue for 35 years and remains in close contact with his former colleagues; and Martinez is a community psychologist and licensed clinical social worker who has been providing free crisis management counseling to Baptist Health professionals on the front lines of the pandemic.

“We were very concerned about the shortage of supplies. When we saw that FIU was working on this project, it occurred to us that we could do something to benefit the firefighters and first responders here in our community who are on the front lines, as well,” Martinez said.

The City of Miami Department of Fire and Rescue put out a statement that read: “We are dealing with the worst tragedy our nation has ever seen. It’s inspirational to see organizations discovering creative ways to provide essential services and support to those on the front lines. We appreciate FIU joining our mission to protect our firefighters with resources necessary to safeguard our community.”

Fire Chief Alan Cominsky of Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue said the department is grateful to the college and to Martinez and Chavez for the generous donation “intended to safeguard our fire-rescue personnel.”

“We assure you that this generous donation will go to help us continue to serve our community and will also help protect our first responders in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We praise the efforts of all those who were involved in this initiative to help guarantee the safety of our frontline personnel and of the community they serve,” Cominsky said.

“As Desmond Tutu reminded us, ‘A time of crisis is not just a time of anxiety and worry. It gives a chance, an opportunity, to choose well or to choose badly.’ Dr. Martinez and Mr. Chavez have, like they have in past, immediately stepped forward to partner with us and have chosen to do well and to help our community,” Schriner said.

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