AGNR Students Source, Construct, and Supply Thousands of PPE to Maryland Hospitals

Image Credit: Les Lorenz

June 3, 2020 Graham Binder

While UMD’s campus quietly hibernates in anticipation of the university community potentially returning in the fall, a small cohort of students and staff are buzzing in AGNR’s Department of Environmental Science and Technology (ENST), devoting their time and mental energy towards the greater good. Les Lorenz, an engineering technician within ENST, along with four fearless undergraduates, Christopher Chansler, Jonathan Fuentes, Skylar King and Calvin Lynn have refashioned the department’s Project Development Center into a fabrication lab for protective face shields to aid in the battle against COVID-19. 

Since May 13th, the team has kept up an impressive pace, constructing close to 1200 face shields. Lorenz has orchestrated an efficient assembly line, with one student cutting the foam, another cutting the straps, and the remaining two fabricating and bagging the shields. All materials are sourced through the University of Maryland Medical System, with all finished PPE rushed directly to the network of 14 University System hospitals throughout the state of Maryland. 

Logistically, it has been a fairly streamlined process. Social distancing and proper safety precautions are paramount, and Lorenz has engineered the space to feature one table for each student, set up roughly 15 feet from each other. The students wear face masks at all times. However, the Project Development Center boasts 20-foot ceilings, which provides plenty of air circulation during work hours. 

“University campuses present ideal opportunities to use our buildings, facilities, materials, and student support to aid in the fight against COVID-19,” says Lorenz. “Maryland has been hit hard, with a high rate of hospitalizations, particularly in the more urban counties, and we’ve been thrilled to have the chance to give back to our first responders and medical professionals who have great need for PPE. I am very proud of our students for their tenacity and commitment to the cause.”