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In crisis, teachers learn the importance, joy of teamwork

Thursday, April 23, 2020
Isaac Blandin, a student on the robotics team at Central DeWitt High School, has been creating ear savers with the team’s 3D printer.

Isaac Blandin, a student on the robotics team at Central DeWitt High School, has been creating ear savers with the team’s 3D printer.”

WAUKEE – When Andrew Hauptmann got a call asking if he could help the state’s frontline medical personnel, he didn’t think twice.

Hauptmann, an industrial technology teacher for the Waukee Community School District, went into action. He enlisted two other industrial technology teachers, Jon Galli and Cole Kleinwolterink, and they got to work.

With their administration’s blessing, the men took eight 3D printers from various district buildings, set them up in their respective homes, and started making components for the critically needed face shields.

Running the printers nearly 24 hours a day, they are cranking out enough components to assemble 48 masks a day. Though that may seem like a drop in a bucket compared to the personal protective equipment needed during the pandemic, it adds up quickly: There are dozens of schools across the state, both public and nonpublic, that have donated their 3D printers to create face shields.

Like Waukee, many schools have been participating through a statewide collaboration, though some districts, like Central DeWitt Community School District, have been doing their own thing like making ear-savers, which reduce the stress on ears supporting face masks.

Work in Waukee began two weeks ago when the district received a call for help. Receiving $500 in raw material courtesy the Waukee Foundation, the teachers started making the components.
Hauptmann said the he’s learned a lot from the experience.

Andrew Hauptmann

Andrew Hauptmann

“I thought I had mastered my 3D printer, now I know it very well,” he said. “Once everything gets back to normal, I will be able to use it more extensively with the students by knowing the machine’s capabilities and be able to reduce waste.”

Though the school buildings are closed, Hauptmann, in addition to his work on the 3D printers, is keeping up with his ninth-grade students (Waukee’s continuous learning is a combination: 10th grade and up is required learning, and 9th grade and lower is voluntary).

“I’ve been sending out documents to the students about what they can do this week,” he said. “If they are able to build something, they should take pictures and talk about techniques and safety. The other is to fix something. If something is broken around the house, research how to fix and then fix it.”

The experience he’s gained will be turned into hands-on, real-world lessons in the future.

“I’ve learned a lot about production in this time, and that’s something I am going to work into the classroom,” Hauptmann said.

As private industry is starting to ratchet up production to meet the need for face shields, the demand is waning for face shield production in Iowa’s schools.

“They are going to let us know next week if we need to make something else,” Hauptmann said. “I know that once we start opening things back up gradually, we can do something small in Waukee and give them to members of the community, such as a dentist offices or other offices that need to reach out.”

The overall experience has been great.

“Everyone, from Johnston (Community School District), which took the lead in this, have done a really nice job in connecting, the volunteers at the Area515 have gone up and beyond, and the AEAs have been great in getting the shield components distributed. It’s really cool to see everyone come together and help Iowans.”

Schools across state use 3D printers to fight COVID-19

Components that make up protective face shields are made from 3D printers at schools and community colleges across the state.

Components that make up protective face shields are made from 3D printers at schools and community colleges across the state.

Dozens of public and nonpublic schools from across the state have stepped up to the plate in the battle against the coronavirus.

The schools are using their 3D printers to produce components for medical face shields, critically needed for front-line health care providers. In addition, many of Iowa’s community colleges are also producing components with their 3D printers. The Iowa Lakes Community College Engineering Technology program, for example, is partnering with area individuals and businesses to develop 3-D printed personal protective equipment (PPE) and ear savers for health care facilities in northwest Iowa.

The state’s nine Area Education Agencies are also supporting the effort by using their 3D printers to create components, operating a few school district 3D printers on behalf of the school district, and providing transportation of all face shield components throughout the state to their assembly location.

The components are then shipped to two locations – NewBoCo in Cedar Rapids and Area515 in Des Moines – where they are assembled and distributed to health care facilities. In addition, the 3D Printer Project Organizing Committee is working on establishing a third assembly location, while the QC Co-Lab, the Quad Cities Maker Space, has been involved in producing Personal Protective Equipment.

“I applaud the incalculable efforts of our schools, our Area Education Agencies and the private sector,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo. “The importance of the work being done through this public-private cannot be understated.”

The efforts are being coordinated by the 3D Printer Project Organizing Committee, which is made up of nonprofit organizations, the Iowa Department of Education, and business partners.  The members meet daily to discuss the current needs throughout the state and identify how those needs can be met.

The statewide efforts are predicted to eventually wind down as industrial manufacturers of these products will have will have production fully ramped up within the next few weeks.

The schools participating in this effort are:

Cedar Rapids Xavier High School, East Union, Graettinger-Terril, Iowa City Regina Jr. Sr. High School, North Cedar, Sheldon, Webster City, Audubon, Calamus-Wheatland, Central Lyon, Cherokee, Clarion-Goldfield-Dows, Clayton Ridge, Davenport Assumption High School, Davenport John F. Kennedy Catholic School, Davis County, Dubuque, Dubuque Holy Ghost School, Dubuque Mazzuchelli Catholic Middle School, Forest City, Gilmore City-Bradgate, Hamburg, Highland, Lake Mills, Le Mars, Marion, MFL MarMac, Missouri Valley, MOC-Floyd Valley, North Mahaska,  OACBIG, Prairie Valley, South Winneshiek, Southeast Webster Grand, Tipton, Tri-Center, Woodbury Central, Akron Westfield, Alburnett, Atlantic, Camanche, Centerville, Clarinda, Collins-Maxwell, Denver, East Marshall, Fort Madison, Keokuk, Norwalk, Osage, Ottumwa, Southeast Polk, Vinton-Shellsburg, Waukee, West Des Moines, West Marshall, Whiting, Cedar Rapids Isaac Newton Christian Academy, Emmetsburg Catholic School, Fairfield Maharishi School, Fort Madison Holy Trinity Elementary, Fort Madison Holy Trinity Jr.-Sr. High, Humboldt St. Mary's School, Le Mars Gehlen Catholic School Incorporated, and New Hampton St Joseph School.

If a public or nonpublic school would like to get involved, they should email the Iowa Department of Education’s Steve Crew at to be included in the production of medical face shields.

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Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on September 21, 2021 at 9:28pm.