Robotics Team Helps Fight Coronavirus

NJ+State+Police+officers+picking+up+over+15%2C000+face+shields+to+distribute+to+first+responders.+%28Photo+Courtesy+of+Mr.+Daryl+Detrick%29

NJ State Police officers picking up over 15,000 face shields to distribute to first responders. (Photo Courtesy of Mr. Daryl Detrick)

Aaliyah Khan, Editor in Chief

The global pandemic, with its lockdowns, curfews and widespread panic, found many healthcare workers and first responders lacking in Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), but   the Warren Hills Robotics Association (WHRA) stepped up locally by raising funds to assemble face shields to protect front-line workers fighting COVID-19. 

Head Robotics Advisor Adam Slack, Computer Science teacher Daryl Detrick and junior Bobby Delghiaccio came up with the idea after seeing a post on the internet about people trying to print 3D personal protective equipment. 

After some trial and error with making the shields, the WHRA teamed up with Mount Olive High School in the project, as they were also printing components for face shields.

It takes a really long time to print them. I  was able to make four per day, so mass production using 3D printers isn’t very feasible,” said Delghiaccio.  “I was able to make 21, and Mr. Bodmer from Mount Olive picked them up and donated them to Rutgers University Hospital in Newark.” 

The project soon took off to fulfill a bigger vision after Detrick had a conversation with Colonel Patrick Callahan, superintendent of the NJ State Police, in which it was agreed that Callahan would take  and distribute the first 500 face shields, causing WHRA to try to raise funds to make more.

“The Robotics Team started a GoFundMe to raise $20,000, enough to make 10,000 shields. We received donations from the Plumber’s Union, the Board of Ed, Mount Olive, and a ton of people. The teachers and the Robotics parents have been really great about coordinating supplies and getting everything organized, and 20 families stepped up to help assemble parts of the face shields at home,” Delghiaccio said. 

After raising about $40,000 in just 10 days, the team was able to make and distribute over 15,000 face shields which were distributed to first responders all around New Jersey and New York. 

Detrick said he is proud of how the Warren Hills community came together to accomplish a much-needed goal.

“It is weird to be in a situation where we are told that the best way to help is to do nothing,” he said.  “Social isolation is really important; however, we were glad that we could find a way to help the health care workers while still keeping social distancing, so that was rewarding.”

Slack also said he was impressed how the project was able to bring the community together in hard times.

“I honestly feel like a rockstar as it was so good for everyone involved on all fronts. We helped protect the people we care about and that in and of itself is priceless, and I think it lifted our communities up a bit to see something of this magnitude come together,” Slack said. “There is still an overwhelming amount of good in the world around us! The whole thing itself makes me extremely proud and happy, and I hope it inspires others to do and accomplish great things.”