Students enrolled in WNY P-TECH typically spend time in the classroom finding the correlation between book work and real-world applications, whether creating solutions in SolidWorks or fabricating solutions to age-old problems.
In that vein, two instructors are now utilizing classroom curriculum in SolidWorks to design and 3-D print a solution to a new and very real problem.
“Will Smock, our P-TECH principal, had sent over an article about a Cub Scout in Canada who started printing ear guards for facemasks and it was on open source on Thingiverse so I downloaded it and started to print a couple,” said Nick Anson, P-TECH CADD teacher. “I redesigned them a little, I thought they were a little thick, and of course, we wanted to put our personal touch on it.”
The 3-D-printed ear guard alleviates pressure from facemask elastic which would normally chafe the wearer’s ears. Anson and WNY P-TECH math teacher Matt Edwards printed more than 220 ear guards and are making donations to the Dunkirk Police Department, Dunkirk Fire Department, Brooks Memorial Hospital and Elliot Hospital in New Hampshire and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, where P-TECH global studies teacher Julia Herman’s cousins work.
“I can’t thank the P-TECH program enough for thinking of us when they made up ear guards to help take off some of the stress of having these masks wrapped around your ear,” said David Ortolano, Dunkirk Police Department Chief. “We do appreciate it and on behalf of the whole department want to thank the P-TECH program.”
Each ear guard takes a little over an hour to print and can be printed on a bed of seven. Anson and Edwards are continuing to print more ear guards for distribution to additional health care facilities and emergency responders.
WNY P-TECH principal William Smock foresees several problem-solution scenarios that P-TECH students can work into their education moving forward.
“I’d like to ask the students what were some things we encountered that we could have found a solution for at P-TECH,” he said. “We’re big into problem-solving. So, we’ll look at what did we see, what did we experience and what can we turn into a learning experience here.”
Ear guards for essential workers such as firefighters, EMS and law enforcement will help alleviate some pressure, but there are other measures the public can take to assist as well.
“If you don’t have to go out, stay home; if you are sick, quarantine yourself; and if you do show symptoms and you’re calling the police department or fire department for help please tell us ahead of time,” Ortolano said. “Having advanced notice gives our people a chance to prepare the best when going into these situations … it helps us out a lot if we know ahead of time before going in if someone isn’t feeling well. We have to keep our officers safe because if we get sick we can’t serve the community. It’s quite the situation, one I’ve never dealt with in my life and I hope it never happens again.”
P-TECH is an up-to-six-year, all-day program where students earn an associate degree from Jamestown Community College in one of two pathways, Welding Technology or Mechanical Technology with a specialization in CADD or machine tool.
Interested eighth-grade students can email their counselor or P-TECH Principal William Smock at [email protected] for more information. Applications for the 2020-21 school year are still being accepted. For more information visit www.e2ccb.org.