With support from the UW-Madison International Projects Office, graduate student Rebecca Alcock is playing a leading role in a large-scale, United Nations-backed effort to mobilize production of personal protective equipment (PPE) and more in developing countries around the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
When Engineers Without Borders senior engineer Michael Paddock contacted the UW Makerspace team to inquire about replicating its approach for production of the Badger Shield in Guatemala, Rebecca Alcock, a graduate assistant at the Makerspace, was a natural fit to get involved. She’s drawn on both her medical device design-intensive background as a two-time biomedical engineering graduate and her work on Shield Net, the online face-shield matching platform that grew out of the Badger Shield collaboration.
As part of a small team that also includes recent Marquette engineering graduate Jessica Thayer, Alcock has developed a “playbook” for implementing local PPE production—including assessing needs, designing equipment, sourcing materials, retooling production lines, and matching manufacturers and healthcare providers—based on early success in Guatemala. The collaborative effort in the Central American country resulted in the distribution of 75,000 units of PPE within four weeks, a rapid turnaround that caught the UNDP’s attention.