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West Virginia Northern Community College (WVNCC) staff and faculty have been working around the clock to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) to help aid in the battle against Coronavirus. WVNCC employees have been utilizing the College’s 3D printers in their Makerspace to manufacture N95 masks to ship to the WVNG for distribution.
Before the Coronavirus even became a pandemic, two WVNCC employees, David J. Stoffel, MSSE, Associate Professor of CIT and Division Chair of STEM & Business, and Julie Kloss, a librarian who helps oversee the College’s Makerspace, began devising a plan to produce PPE for healthcare workers. However, the WVNG reached out through the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission asking any colleges in the state with 3D printers to come up with a prototype for N95 masks. Stoffel worked with colleagues in the state and Col. Todd Fredricks, WVNG State Surgeon, to develop an approved prototype to meet medical specifications and is shipping their first case of N95 masks this week. The masks will be distributed statewide by the WVNG to first responders and medical professionals.
“I was a little bit unsure in the beginning, but I have come to learn you either get scared or you lead,” commented Stoffel. “We will keep producing these until they tell us not to. My hope is a large manufacturing company can take our porotype and mass produce them soon.”
Stoffel is currently working on a new mold that will enable the college to mass produce N95 masks more efficiently.
“Our employees did not hesitate to jump right in and utilize the technology we have at the College to assist in battling this pandemic,” added WVNCC President Dr. Daniel Mosser. “These are unprecedented times and they have shown extraordinary enthusiasm and innovation to do their part and I couldn’t be more proud.”