Make: Plan C is for "Civic"
Sharna Jahangir posted on April 02, 2020 |
Make: Community and Engineering.com are launching MakeProjects.com to connect Makers.


Undeniably, the COVID-19 pandemic has become an emergency. New York City is being devastated.  FDA’s COVID-19 forecasting model predicts a minimum of 100,000 -200,000 people will die in USA within two to three months. We are at a point where every minute of action is impactful.

The joint venture of Make: Community and Engineering.com, MakeProjects shares a plethora of eye-opening action by engineers, makers and doers, acting on their civic duty and encouraging others to join an all-hands-on-deck effort in this article.

The COVID-19 urgency

This is a state of crisis we have yet to face in the new world. In wars, we have faced big enemies. In the COVID-19 war, we are fighting an unknown microbe that endangers the entire human population. Our hospitals are overwhelmed, our defenses are low. Logistics are challenged. We need trained medical personnel with personal protective equipment (PPE) and innovative sanitization mechanisms.

Nationally, Plan A and Plan B are in the works, but the policies and taskforces involved stall action. Each state is battles over masks and other PPE and ventilator supplies for their own hospitals. Hospitals are running in a contingency mode as they are struggling to find enough doctors and nurses and head towards a crisis mode.

We need a Plan C. The C is for Civic. Plan C involves self-organizing groups of volunteer contributors.  Who are these contributors? Gui Cavalcanti of the OSCMS group tells Make: that they are “former executives from Fortune 500 companies.”

"It’s 40-some-odd doctors, 120 documentarians of various kinds, including librarians, including medical transcriptionists,” says Cavalcanti. “These people are helping developing solutions and methods on how to slow-down and fight the virus, in addition to testing new theories as they emerge.”

This article highlights and delves deeper into the projects accumulated from Plan C, the Civic plan, designed by engineers, doctors, makers and doers of STEM. There are many roles available, many local. A good guideline to the process is:

1.      Design and prototyping

2.      Production

3.      Deployment of solutions to places of need

Most projects right now are in the first phase, design and prototyping. They need a wide range of skillsets, although engineers and technicians are required to lead the research and development, not everyone is required to have an engineering degree.

Current Plan C Projects in Works, but for information and details, read Plan C: Crisis Mode for COVID-19.

Bill Hemphill and the ETSU Emergency Face Shield

From the Engineering Department at East Tennessee State University, Bill Hemphill received a call from his supervisor, Dr. Keith Johnson, asking about designing a 3D harness to attach to face shields. And after pushing the process along, connecting departments and resources, person to person, through communication and passion, ETSU personnel created a system that, given raw materials and supplies, can now easily make 100+ units per each 8 hr shift.

UV Sanitizing Units

A local inventor, Brad Halsey has set up mobile training labs for soldiers in the US and Middle East, empowering them to use the tools of the maker movement and to become makers themselves. “I challenged the team to a one-week robot sprint where they had to develop a robot that could use ultraviolet (UV) light and sanitize vertical and horizontal surfaces,” said Halsey.

Designing and Testing a Face Mask

The shortage of N95 masks has been a harrowing challenge for clinicians and health care professionals. One group tackling this is call FixtheMask. The team members behind it carries qualifications such as mechanical engineering background and in advanced manufacturing and fulfillment.

Health Care Professionals Are DIY’ers

Medical professionals have taken matters into their own hands, developing innovative solutions for challenging situations. New York physicians decided to share ventilators among patients rather than have to choose one patient to live. In Taiwan, Dr. Lai Hsien-yung developed an “Aerosol Box”, a clear plastic box that fits over patient’s head and allows physicians to safely perform endotracheal intubation.

Dr. Randell Vallero adapts Scuba masks as PPE.
Dr. Randell Vallero adapts Scuba masks as PPE.

This pandemic is a community crisis and a world crisis. Through altruistic endeavor and ingenuity, engineering has moved humanity forward and kept our spirit strong. Luckily, humanity has been quick to join up, regardless of borders. To stay learn more, stay up to date, -- and even pitch in -- on these engineering endeavors, look for the joint venture between Engineering.com and Make: Community, MakeProjects, launching in April 2020. Along with the COVID-19 crisis solutions and designs, it will share all subjects of open source engineering and maker projects.


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