Northeast State begins producing face shields for health care workers

Local Coronavirus Coverage

Photo: Northeast State Community College

BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Northeast State Community College has joined the ranks of other schools across the country producing face shields for those on the front lines of battling the coronavirus.

According to a release from school, the face shields are being produced in the Northeast State Regional Center of Advanced Manufacturing Academy in Kingsport with the use of 3D printers.

After classes at Northeast State were moved to online courses, the labs were freed up to start aiding the medical industry in providing equipment.

“We are going to make as many as we can as fast as we can,” said Northeast State instructor Keith Bowery. “I’m going to keep them until they tell me to quit, or I run out of material.”

Like ETSU, the Academy partnered with STREAMWORKS Education to help produce the face shields.

“We started using the RCAM printers at STREAMWORKS on Sunday,” said Heath McMillian, executive director of Economic and Workforce Development at Northeast State. “We fired up the five printers here at the Academy on Monday morning.”

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission announced last week that public postsecondary institutions like Northeast State would use existing 3D printers to help supply the necessary equipment in Tennessee.

“In unprecedented times, Tennessee higher education is united in doing our part to support the state’s brave health care professionals,” said THEC Executive Director Mike Krause said. “Our colleges and universities have always been incubators for innovation, and this is a perfect example of the ingenuity and dedication of that work.”

Other local schools participating in efforts to help produce face shields and other equipment include ETSU and TCAT Elizabethton. Across the state, both technical and four-year institutions are contributing to creating face shields.

According to the release, 1,500 needed pieces of equipment were produced in three days.

The release says 70 face shields were transported to Knoxville for further transport to Nashville on Tuesday.

“Two weeks ago I never would have envisioned we would be making medical face shields,” said Dennis Courtney, executive director of STREAMWORKS Education. “But here we are producing 24 hours a day trying to get as many out there as we can.”

Quintin Folkner, a Dobyns-Bennett EXCEL student and future Northeast State student, has aided in the efforts by manning the laser printer with computer software.

“I’m studying technology applications especially underwater robotics, which got me very interested in it,” said Folkner, who will be attending Northeast State this fall.

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