LA seniors work together to 3D print face shields for Lincoln County.

In mid-March, Cameron Nelson ‘20, attended a community meeting with his neighbors. The residents of their road in Damariscotta gathered – six feet apart – to discuss COVID-19 topics ranging from how to keep their families and each other safe, how to combat misinformation about Coronavirus, and how to “help Lincoln County endure the following months of hardship.” Cameron learned that his neighbor Zev was looking for volunteers to  make masks and face shields to support LincolnHealth employees and other essential workers in the area.

Immediately, Cameron knew he wanted to help and found himself in the role of project manager for a team from the Lincoln Academy Service group, a volunteer group of students working to support food pantries and other essential resource providers for the duration of this pandemic. He also reached out to Stephanie Cheney, Academic Technology Coordinator at LA, who helped him research shield designs. She gave students Victoria Melehov ‘20, Benji Pugh ‘20 , and Toby Seidel ‘20 access to one of the 3D printers from the ATEC building. 

The group worked together to refine the printing plans. Toby Seidel says that this was probably the slowest part of the process since many plans required printers much larger than the ones they had access to. After this hurdle, he began printing masks from home and quickly produced over a dozen shields. Next came another logistical challenge: Establishing delivery times and locations while following social distance guidelines and ensuring each other’s safety. Cameron states: “We made sure to stay six feet apart when we needed to meet in person and sanitized the equipment often.”

This project helped the team realize how many opportunities there are to support their community and respond as a “unified front.” Since the project with Indivisible Lincoln County, Lincoln Academy students have participated in a virtual phone banking project under the leadership of State Representative Chloe Maxim. They make calls to senior citizens in Lincoln County and ensure they have access to necessities. Volunteers will also shop for groceries and even help seniors navigate the resources necessary to enduring this pandemic. Rep. Maxim’s phone bank project has resulted in 11,850 calls to Lincoln County seniors. Cameron says he feels that these projects have opened up a “world of possibilities.” Toby notes that he’ll be using the team-oriented design approach when he enters the Mechanical Engineering program at Northeastern University in the fall.

Below: Students maintain their distance while coordinating a hand-off of face shields and watching the 3D printer do its job.