Gabriel Guo and his friends had planned to work on a project for robotics competitions this past spring. But when the coronavirus started spreading, the competitions were canceled.
So the robotics team—of which Guo was president—decided to use their engineering skills for a different purpose. They started making clear plastic face and eye shields, which help protect against airborne droplets of the virus. They used 3-D printers, which build up layers of material, such as plastic or metal, to create solid objects.
The team first created two types of face shields for essential workers.
“One we called the Mandalorian, and another one we called the Stormtrooper, since they both look like something out of Star Wars,” Guo says. Later they created a third version, called the Vizsla.
The teens raised money for materials through crowdfunding, grants, and corporate donations.
Guo and his friends ended up delivering 8,650 face shields and 14,000 eye shields to 97 different facilities, including hospitals, medical care centers, and grocery stores.
For Guo, the competitions’ cancellation had a silver lining.
“I think the project gave me a sense of purpose,” he says. “It feels really good that everyone on our team can use the skills that we learned from robotics . . . and make a difference in this time of need.” —Emma Coburn