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Southern University engineering staff and students producing 3D masks

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Staff and students of the Southern University College of Sciences and Engineering are doing there part in helping combat the COVID-19 pandemic by running a lab full of 3D printers to manufacture parts for reusable masks to be used by healthcare professionals.

“I saw an article on Facebook talking about people using 3D printing for masks,” said Jason Chang, director of information technology at the College. “I said, ‘We can really help our community.’”

According to Chang, the lab located in the P.B.S. Pinchback building, houses the most 3D printers in a centralized location for an educational institution in the state. So far, Chang and his team have produced nearly 2,000 masks.

3D printers are able to generate accurate representations of parts designed in several industry standard software programs such as SolidWorks and AutoCAD.

The lab is funded by a $2 million grant presented to the university in 2018 from Entergy. Governor John Bel Edwards matched the grant for a total of $4 million, to help strengthen STEM disciplines and to upgrade facilities.

“The need for PPE (personal protective equipment) is paramount in the safety and protection of our healthcare community and we continue to have a shortage… which makes our frontline healthcare workers more vulnerable,” said Sandra Brown, dean of the College of Nursing and Allied Health at Southern, and co-chair of the Louisiana COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.