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Posted: June 23, 2020

JROTC Instructors Create Face Shields for Coronavirus Fight

A grant from the APS Education Foundation helped pay for the 3D printers used to make more than 2,000 shields so far.

Joe McDaniel and son Joey

Joe McDaniel and son Joey

Three APS JROTC instructors are using 3D printers to create face shields for frontliners, including those fighting the coronavirus on the Navajo Nation. 

When schools closed, Major Mark Hendricks, who runs the successful Navy JROTC program at West Mesa High School, moved 3D printers from the school's Maker Space lab to his garage, where he has been working with Joe McDaniel of Garfield Middle School and Gabe Armstrong of L.B. Johnson Middle School to create the much-needed face shields used to protect those combating coronavirus. The team hopes to get students involved in the process once high school activities resume the week of June 29. 

“Because the entire world was caught flat-footed by COVID-19, and because personal protection equipment is apparently in short supply here in New Mexico, I decided to get our program and some of the tools from our Mustang Makers Space into the fight against the virus,” said Major Hendricks.

Some of the newer printers the team is using were originally purchased to make rocket components and parts for remotely operated vehicles and high altitudes balloon vehicles.

West Mesa is known for its high-quality STEM programming. It has garnered grant funding from the APS Education Foundation and other community partners because of its leadership and innovation in the area of STEM education. Even though JROTC instructors are not able to teach in class and labs, they are leading by example by using their resources where they are needed most.

West Mesa Principal Mark Garcia approved the use of the lab’s equipment to help make the face shields. New NM Makers United is coordinating the logistics and the donation process. 

The APS trio has made more 2,000 face shields so far.  

In addition to the Navajo Nation, Major Hendricks said face shields are headed across the state to places like Edgewood, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Laguna Acoma Pueblo, and Farmington. 

"As we move into the summer and fall, West Mesa NJROTC will be leading this effort within APS and partnering with other maker groups in the area to produced needed medical components that can be 3D printed," Major Hendricks said.

The materials for the face shields are paid for by grants received by NM Makers Untied. Thus far the group has received more than $11,000 in grants to support the effort. 

Emphasizing the importance of collaboration and community support, Major Hendricks states, “This entire effort to support front line medical workers is only possible because of the APS Education Foundation and our collective hard work.”