At the height of the pandemic in May of 2020, Quest Integration wanted to help the community. Before being acquired by Hawk Ridge Systems, they launched a grant program. STEM The Tide was designed to encourage students to produce personal protection equipment (PPE).
What is STEM the Tide?
The kits came with a 3D printer, 90-days of support, a kick-off training class, and a spool of material. Mark Bitz, Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering and Physics teacher at Spokane Valley Tech, heard about the initiative and knew his students could handle the task.
"Mr. Bitz emailed me asking if I wanted to manage it and put my name on the grant from Hawk Ridge Systems," Rein Wehrman, Student Project Manager recalled, "I, of course, said yes."
The purpose of the project was to have students learn more about designing for additive manufacturing while creating something of high demand.
"A lot of people really need face shields right now," Wehrman said. "It was really nice to be able to help the community."
The team of three spent a few weeks researching different designs and testing ones they thought would be best.
"We started right after Thanksgiving, and I assembled a team," Wehrman detailed. "Frank Rolls and Ryan Chilson are my designers. We actually came up with three designs that we liked. We printed them and tested them."
After landing on a design, they double-checked the health standard before ramping up production.
"We had to cover the gap between the shield and your forehead and ours didn't do that," Wehrman explained.
Once they found a design that would work and they completed their field testing, they started 3D printing.
"We made 58 masks over the two-week winter break," Wehrman said.
They donated those to the MultiCare Deaconess Blood and Cancer Treatment Facility in North Spokane, WA. They printed another 28 to donate to Spokane Valley Tech students, staff and parents.
"Since we're going back to school, people want to stay safe," Wehrman shared. "[This] seemed like a good way to do it."
They were able to use this project to win SkillsUSA regionals in the Engineering, Technical Design category. Their next stop is state, where they will be creating their own design for.
"Our goal is to use less filament and to shorten the print time," Wehrman said.
Hawk Ridge is passionate about helping bring up the next generation of engineers through STEM. We wish Rein and her team the best of luck at the next SkillsUSA competition.
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