Opinion: The University of Wisconsin and other public universities are on the front lines of the battle against coronavirus

In the middle of March, as hospitals in the Midwest began to see an uptick in COVID-19 cases, a University of Wisconsin-Madison engineer and faculty member named Lennon Rodgers received an urgent message from a colleague at University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison.

The story was one we’ve seen across the country: The hospital needed 1,000 face shields and had been unable to buy them. Could Rodgers’ Grainger Engineering Design Innovation Lab help?

He put his children to bed, raced to Home Depot, stopped at a craft store to pick up a couple of foam mannequin heads and then pulled together an interdisciplinary team of physicians, engineers and partners from industry to come up with a prototype. They wanted something that could be mass-produced quickly and cheaply and that would feel familiar to the user. After some trial-and-error, they found a design that worked and then posted the pattern and materials list online so others could make these face shields.

Less than three weeks after the team began its work, Ford picked up the “Badger Shield” and manufactured a batch of 1 million, shipping them to hospitals across the country. John Deere soon followed. Since then, more than 300 small and mid-size factories in 39 states have signaled their intention to start producing face shields in cooperation with Badger Shield. Justin Boutilier, another member of the Wisconsin engineering faculty, is now matching those factories with 270 health care facilities that have requested the shields.

Our nation and the world are facing a global pandemic of the sort we have not seen for a century. We are anxious about potential illness and death among our family and friends.  But we are also seeing, perhaps more clearly than ever, the places where hope exists.

Together, we have paused tens of thousands of research projects and turned our attention to the urgent work of stopping the coronavirus. In record time, we’ve put together public-private partnerships of scientists, engineers, public health experts, manufacturers and many others to address the pandemic.

Read the full article at: https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/solutions/2020/05/12/uw-madison-engineers-designed-coronavirus-face-shield-hospitals/3092395001/