Fayetteville science teachers 3D print 500 protective masks for law enforcement

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Three Cumberland County teachers are doing their part to make sure local law enforcement is getting the masks needed to protect themselves from COVID-19.

The trio are using 3-D printers at Terry Sanford High School to produce protective masks exclusively for the Fayetteville Police Department, thanks to an agreed-upon partnership.

Brian Thompson, a science teacher at TSHS, Drew Blazo, the Director of Math and Science Academy at E.E. Smith High School, and Amber House, a Career and Technical Education teacher at Creek Middle School, are working together to create 500 "Montana Masks".

They're using around 30 3D printers to get the job done, choosing this particular design for its reusability, durability, and strong filtration.

"As scientists, we were interpreting this and were like, 'This is going to be bad. We want to do something about it'. And so we had the opportunity to be models for our students," Thompson said.

The project started on April 2 and should be completed sometime next week.

Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins said she's excited to get more PPE to her officers and see the community come together.

"The teachers were the first ones to say, 'We want to do this'. And to be able to reach out with this partnership in our community, everyone step up and doing their role - it's huge!" Hawkins added.

Thompson, a longtime teacher at TSHS, says they were able to accumulate their large collection of 3D printers thanks to grants. He says the lab they have set up right now, "to my knowledge, is the largest 3-D printing lab in a public high school in the state".

Since the start of the pandemic, Thompson has had to grow accustomed to teaching his students online from home.

The science teacher says he's glad to be back in the classroom and see the machines he used for education purposes become a tool to help the community.

Thompson adds other agencies from surrounding counties have inquired about their 3-D printing lab, including Harnett County EMS and a Durham Fire Department. He believes they'll be keeping busy for the foreseeable future.
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