Wiregrass Technical College turns need for PPE into student training

Posted at 5:31 PM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 17:31:45-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — A south Georgia technical college is living up to its motto, "Be Part of The Solution," to keep students and faculty safe.

COVID-19 caused four of Wiregrass Technical College's campuses to close, including their main campus in Valdosta.

Lydia Hubert is the Director of Marketing & Public Relations for Wiregrass Technical College.

"On March 18th, we got the notice from the governor that we needed to go home," said Hubert.

Classes went online.

Fast forward to July 27, Wiregrass campuses reopened, but there was a problem: They desperately needed PPE, specifically face shields, masks, and plexi-glass shields for desks.

"We went to purchase them online, and they were nowhere to be found or they were on backorder," Hubert said.

After finding out there was a two-month wait, the school's instructors came up with a plan.

"We're problem solvers. Instead of saying, how can we order more? We said, maybe we can buy the raw materials and make our own," said Joshua Whittington, an instructor in the Engineering Department at Wiregrass Technical College.

That's exactly what they did.

With funds from the CARES Act, they bought the materials and got industrial trade and engineering students on-board.

"They helped us design some of the shields and KPO," Whittington said.

Using the school's state of the art equipment, students and faculty have produced about 30 3-D printed face masks and close to 300 plexi-glass face and desk shields and distributed them to their four campuses.

Whittington says his students are getting invaluable real-world experience from the project.

"They're learning how to take their trade, something that they've decided to go to school for and adapted to the recent needs of the industry," said Whittington. "And in this case, it's health and it's safety."

Being Part of the Solution during difficult times to help themselves and others Rebound.

The school says they are keeping up with demand, but just barely. They plan to incorporate the project into classes during the fall semester.