Maker Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

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“Plan C”

Watching the world being consumed by a global pandemic is overwhelming. Many of us who self-identify as makers feel the reflexive need to do something to help fix the problem. Individually, trying to figure out what to do seems impossible, yet by working with others, combining our skills and resources, it begins to feel as if we could actually do something useful. This reaction has gained momentum, becoming a virtual global hackathon. On hearing that hospitals and other health providers are running out of respirators, face shields, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) makers around the world started working to design and build alternate solutions to the problem.

Dale Dougherty, publisher of Make Magazine coined the phrase "Plan C" to describe this phenomenon in a Make Magazine article cowritten by Dougherty and Victor W. Hwang. Plan A is the expectation that governments will solve the crisis. Plan B would be Industry stepping up to supply necessary materials. WHen both of those fail, Plan C is the Community recognizing the need and mobilizing to do whatever they can to help.

Local Efforts

Clark School of Engineering

Researchers and students in the A. James Clark School of Engineering are working to counter the COVID-19 pandemic in a variety of ways. Projects range from Terpsanitizer, hand sanitizer made by Faculty and Students in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering to 3D-Printed Custom Conformal N95 Masks in the Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices See their COVID-19 site for more information.

How can you help?

If you'd like help, how do you figure out what to do?

One suggestion is to check with Nation of Makers (NoM), a US organization that helps maker spaces start up, grow, and succeed. NoM maintains a Google doc that lists maker projects and organizations working on COVID-19 projects. From that larger list, a few are higghlighted below:

Currently NoM has designs for face shields, handmade masks, safety goggles, and a validated gown design. They are currently working with their partners to create validated designs for booties, head coverings, and other critical PPE.

NoM is partnering with several other groups to help bring maker-designed personal protective equipment (PPE) designs from concept to reality. The overall process is: Engineers, makers and designers design a prototype (independently, or through NoM partner groups ), then send it to a panel of medical reviewers (medical professionals who have volunteered to validate the designs) for validation.

Once a design has been validated, it is submitted to their partner group GetUsPPE for publication on the website where makers can download designs and start contributing their time and expertise.

The first group, GetUsPPE provides a forum to connect medical professionals needing PPE with makers creating PPE designed by others. If you have a 3D printer, sewing machine, laser cutter, or other maker tools at home, is a great place to look for things you can create to help.

In partnership with GetUsPPE, NoM is working with the Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies (OSCMS) Group, a volunteer group of medical professionals, engineers, scientists, designers, professional fabricators, and makers that are working to evaluate, design, validate, and source the fabrication of open source emergency medical supplies around the world. OSCM provides a forum for makers to get feedback on their designs and for medical professionals to ask for what they need.

The final group is Helpful Engineering (, an open community of volunteers designing, sourcing and executing projects to help people suffering from the COVID-19 crisis worldwide.