MiraCosta College Joins Effort in Developing Critical Personal Protective Equipment in Ongoing Fight Against the Coronavirus
MiraCosta College could soon be manufacturing thousands of face masks, hundreds of face shields, and scores of decontamination boxes as part of a statewide effort to ramp up production of personal protective devices (PPEs) in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s going to take everyone in California to step up and do their part, and that includes us,” said Linda Kurokawa, MiraCosta’s director of community education and workforce development at the college. “It feels wonderful to be part of a community that is doing what it can to save lives.”
Instructors at MiraCosta College’s Technology Career Institute in Carlsbad, using the Institute’s machine and engineering shops and 3-D printers, have already developed prototypes of and are ordering parts for hospital face shields. It hopes to begin manufacturing up to 100 face shields daily by the end of the week, Kurokawa said. Prototypes of decontamination boxes that will use UV lights and sensors to disinfect various medical equipment should be completed by early next week. In addition, students in a sewing and upholstery class are being recruited to stitch up to 1,000 face masks per week using elastic bands and fabric Kurokawa purchased from a local crafts store.
Face masks and face shields will be sent to Rady Children’s Hospital for distribution. The decontamination boxes will be going to hospitals and medical centers throughout the region.
“As soon as we can get our protocols, logistics, and approvals in place, we plan on moving forward,” Kurokawa said.
The Technology Career Institute is part of MiraCosta College’s Community Education & Workforce Development Department and is designed to provide not-for-profit, accelerated job training in advanced manufacturing, engineering, healthcare, security and more. “With our manufacturing and engineering equipment, it became really clear one of the things we could be doing is have our students get some real hands-on experience making some of the equipment that is needed,” Kurokawa said.
About the same time Kurokawa and others at the Technology Career Institute began mobilizing, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and the state Office of Emergency Services started querying college officials about their production capabilities. The MiraCosta College Maker Lab at the Oceanside Campus, part of the college Design Department, is equipped with seven 3-D printers, and Instructional Associate Chris Boehm last week developed prototypes for a face mask, face shield, and a “vent splitter,” the latter of which can essentially allow a single ventilator to be used for two separate patients at the same time.
As soon as he gets the go-ahead, Boehm said he plans on fabricating a number of PPEs for use at local hospitals and medical centers.
“We certainly wouldn’t be able to mass produce anything, but if we could use the Maker Lab to make even 100 face shields or 250 vent splitters, that would be enough to perhaps save more than a few lives,” Boehm said. “I’m just so grateful MiraCosta College has an opportunity to have a positive impact on our community and it really underscores what a community college is all about.”
About MiraCosta College
The MiraCosta Community College District has served the coastal North San Diego County area for over 80 years. More than 21,000 credit students per semester in over 70 disciplines enroll in associate degrees, university transfer and workforce readiness certificate programs. The college also serves a wide spectrum of educational needs in the region ranging from programs for adult education, basic skills, and ESL to a California Community College pilot program offering the nation’s first baccalaureate degree in biomanufacturing. MiraCosta College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).