Mayfield STEM Students and Alums Work “Together Apart” to Address the PPE Shortage by 3D Printing Face Masks and Shields for USC Healthcare Heroes
A group of students and college-age alumnae from Mayfield Senior School, an all-girls high school in Pasadena, have marshalled their engineering know-how to produce and donate hundreds of face masks and shields for USC healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.
Sisters Katherine Tighe and Annie Tighe, both Mayfield Senior School alums and both mechanical engineering majors at Duke, have been working overtime to generate physician-approved gear for facilities including Keck Medicine of USC. It’s slow going—it takes about two hours to print each mask on their home 3D printer—but they’ve churned out 78 face masks and 52 face shields over the past five weeks and have recruited more Mayfield students and alums to help.
Cameron Gomez, a graduating senior at Mayfield, heard the call and fired up her family’s home 3D printer at home, too. Caroline Squire, a Mayfield ninth-grader who has been into robotics since middle school, was inspired by the school’s motto of “Actions Not Words” to join the grassroots PPE printing project.
“At Mayfield, we are taught to not say you are going to do something, but to just go and do it!”
Caroline said. “After hearing that members from my robotics team were 3D printing masks for essential workers, I realized that I should make use of my printer to help those who are fighting on the front lines.”
Although she’s worked with various hardware throughout her robotics career, Caroline, a Mayfield freshman and Rock N’ Roll Robots team member has had to harness her problem-solving skills to master the idiosyncrasies of her FlashForge printer.
“I have learned my way around the printer and to comfortably work with it,” Caroline said. She is on track to reach her goal of printing 50 masks by the end of this week.
“I really enjoy watching the whole project come together because I know that it is for a good cause,” Caroline said. “It is going to people who really need the masks—like nurses and doctors in the hospital.”
And although Mayfield alum Elizabeth Nail, a UCLA mechanical engineering major, didn’t have access to a 3D printer at home, she used her technical expertise to resurrect a dormant CraftBot printer from Mayfield’s robotics lab.
Despite a pretty steep mechanical learning curve—she had to chant “righty tighty, lefty loosey” when she first joined one of Mayfield’s two FIRST Tech Challenge robotics teams in 2017—Elizabeth says she’s “gotten the hang of troubleshooting” several different types of 3D printers while working as a UCLA Makerspace technician. She volunteered to rehab her old school printer as soon as she heard about the USC-approved PPE design. While it was a “pretty quick” fix, the old printer requires constant recalibration so production is slower than she’d like. But it’s totally worth it, she says.
“I’ve printed a lot of things over the last couple of years—Halloween costumes, toothbrush caps, avionics boards for rockets—but nothing has been as cool as making something that could literally protect someone’s life,” Elizabeth said. “My mom works in healthcare and she was given just one N95 to last a week, so the shortage of masks hospitals are facing is something that could directly affect my own life, and I’m grateful to be able to help in this tiny way.”
Mayfield Senior School, 500 Bellefontaine St, Pasadena, (626) 799-9121 or visit www.mayfieldsenior.org.