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Wynot Public School helps to produce safety equipment

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WYNOT — Instead of just talking about the problems in the world today, Wynot school administrators decided to do something about it.

Wynot Supt. Jeff Messersmith and Principal and Career Academy Coordinator Grant Torpin decided to make a difference in the battle against COVID-19.

Wilson Trailer Company of Yankton, S.D., has partnered with Wynot Public Schools to produce much needed face shields with a combination of 3D printers and laser cutters. 

The face shields are then donated to the Yankton Medical Clinic P.C. and local medical facilities. 

Wynot Public Schools is cutting the clear shield part out of projector film, plus producing the lower stiffener on their 3-D printers. 

Wilson Trailer is producing the top frames on their 3D printers, cutting the foam head pad, and handling the final assembly.

Rather than just telling students they should make a difference in the world one day, these educators have put the lives of others where their mouths are as they began making face shields as Personal Protective Equipment for medical professionals during this pandemic.

“It’s been Mr. Messersmith and I using our maker space lab to partner with Wilson Trailer Company to get these items made,” Torpin said. “We are going up to the lab and it takes about three hours to do a print job. We knock it off and then the next batch and keep rolling.”

They are pumping out about 120 prints a day. 

“We’ll keep going until we run out of stuff,” Torpin said.

Wynot students are not able to assist, especially with classes shut down due to the coronavirus that has killed over 40,000 Americans heading into this week.

That didn’t stop the two Wynot administrators from taking on the task, though.

“We have a maker space that is made up of several 3D printers, we have a laser etcher, a bio cutter and it’s a super awesome area for students to explore and have an idea and make it,” Messersmith said. “We have a few students trained and they facilitate learning for other students to learn.”

They began to use the facility more this year as they gained more experience.

“This year specifically, we built it up. We have been using it for the last year or so, and school ended and all that basically stopped because without students in the building you can’t really do stuff anymore.

They cranked up the system again when they found out a school employee’s husband works with Wilson Trailer, which was looking for schools with 3D printers to get a partnership started, Torpin said.

“They needed to make face shields for the frontline workers fighting this thing and who needed to be in those labs (equipment), because what they found was wearing a mask all day is pretty uncomfortable,” Torpin said. “So they wanted a better product for them. But as everyone knows products don’t just come out of thin air. You can’t get ventilators and N-95 masks and all the stuff these people desperately need. So what they were having to use were less than half-quality masks.

“These workers were half-protected from the virus.”

Torpin said the shields offer another layer of protection.

“They asked if we were willing to help and we were like, ‘heck yeah,’” Torpin said. “We have this big lab that’s not being used, and we have tons of filament that’s not being used for the 3D printers and just sitting there. We have a need right now and didn’t think twice of donating it and our time.”

They utilized everything they could to assist in the project.

“In our basement we saw a case of old overhead projector film – the little film that math teachers wrote on. That is a dead technology and we weren’t ever going to use those again. We found out they actually work well for the face shield part. All we had to do was cut it into a specific shape. We used our laser etcher to pump those out and it cuts pretty good. We can do about a stack of 20 in about two minutes and pumped out about 100 of those.”

Torpin said this wasn’t any form of contrived advertisement for Wynot schools. It was about the common good.

“We just want to help anyway we can, and this is one little thing that we can do,” he said. “We are looking at ways we can help as a school. There is time investment, but it’s not something I am not willing to do.”