Design for the frontline

May 06, 2020

SALA collaborates to provide supplies to healthcare workers

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a huge increase in need for personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers. While traditional sources of PPE are trying to keep up with demand, the design community has stepped in to offer their expertise and resources. A group of SALA faculty, staff, and students have joined this effort, and in collaboration with the BC COVID-19 3D printing group, have been producing much-needed supplies. 

Soon after on-campus courses were suspended, Assistant Professor Dr. Adam Rysanek connected with the BC COVID-19 Printing Group about redeploying our fleet of 3D printers towards creating face masks and "ear savers". Using the designs shared by the group, our team has produced hundreds of shields and nearly one thousand ear savers. "We were very pleased to put our shoulders to the collective wheel," says Graham Entwistle, our workshop and digifab supervisor who has been working with Dr. Rysanek to coordinate the SALA effort. The printed pieces join the thousands that have been produced by the other printing group members, centrally sanitized, and are distributed across the province (and country) to facilities that have requested PPE. In addition to physical resources, we have also been able to apply our design expertise to the effort. Our team is developing a method to laser cut materials that could decrease production time tenfold. Alternative designs for ear savers are also being tested. 

Beyond meeting the demand for PPE, the SALA team has also launched "UBC Design for the Frontline." With the assistance of Associate Professor and Architecture Chair Blair Satterfield, the platform aims to connect members of the UBC community and establish working groups to find solutions to problems raised by frontline workers. While still a nascent initiative, the team has already fielded requests to print pieces for pandemic response projects from across the university. "We see real potential in crowd-sourcing design solutions that leverage the incredible expertise present in our students, technical staff, and faculty," says Satterfield.

The SALA COVID-19 team is led by Dr. Adam Rysanek and Graham Entwistle, and is comprised of:
Blair Satterfield, Associate Professor and Architecture Chair
AnnaLisa Meyboom, Associate Professor
Robert Geyer, Facilities and Digital Resources Coordinator
Adriana Ermi-Sprung, Workshop and Digital Fabrication Technician
Derek Mavis, MArch Student
Rachel Killoh, MArch Student
Valerine Chandrakesuma, MArch Student
Stuart Lodge, MASA Student