A University of Arkansas at Little Rock student is putting his engineering skills to good use by printing face masks to protect healthcare workers who are battling COVID-19.
“The goal is to be able to supply these masks to hospital and healthcare workers,” said Trigun Maroo, a doctoral student majoring in systems engineering from Surat, India. “They are facing a shortage in masks and other personal protective equipment. This is one way that we get more masks ready for the healthcare workers.”
Maroo started the project after being contacted by a friend, Dr. Supriya Jambhekar, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, who asked if Maroo had 3D printing capabilities to speed up the manufacturing of face masks.
“These masks are much better for personal safety than a cloth mask,” she said. “This mask will be more effective to protect the wearer from catching an infection from others. Ideally, if all healthcare workers wear these or similar masks, they will be more protective to them.”
Maroo is printing face masks that are being tested at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and in Tennessee to see if they can be produced on a large scale.
“Trigun helped a lot by printing out these masks to check the viability and do-ability of the project,” Jambhekar said. “If we need a large number of masks, it will be very helpful if people like Trigun can help to print out these masks.”
For Maroo, the beauty of this project is that it provides a way for non-medical personnel to help in the fight against COVID-19.
“Projects that impact the community positively and directly have been my interest,” he said. “This special opportunity was no different, and I contacted Dr. Wright immediately. Dr. Wright has been very kind and has supported me a lot in this endeavor. I am very grateful to him.”
Dr. Andrew Wright, an associate professor of systems engineering, also serves as Maroo’s mentor on his Signature Experience project and doctoral research. These projects are designed to inspire UA Little Rock students to conduct research and creative projects to enrich their academic experience.
Although Maroo’s initial research project was nearly completed, Wright encouraged his student to switch to the face mask project and offered a 3D printer from the Department of Systems Engineering that Maroo could use to work from his home. Maroo’s project earned first place in the Engineering/Engineering Technology/Construction Management category at UA Little Rock’s 2020 Student Research and Creative Works Expo.