Made in the Northwest: SVT students help stem the tide against COVID-19

SVT Face Shields
Spokane Valley Students recently donated dozens of face shields they made in class to a local healthcare facility.

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. – Spokane Valley Tech focuses on “beyond the book” learning, teaching technical skills to its students.

“We’re always looking for opportunities for students to apply their skills, because through application they learn more deeply,” explained Spokane Valley Tech teacher Mark Bitz

Bitz found a grant project called “Stem the Tide”, asking students to make face shields to help stop the spread of COVID-19. He immediately brought it to his advanced manufacturing class.

“This was just the perfect marriage of those two things,” said Bitz. “And there was a pandemic and we wanted to help.”

Project manager Rein Wehrman and designers Frank Rolls and Ryan Chilson took over from there. But after going through the entire design process, the students realized their face shield didn’t meet the newest design requirement from the National Institute of Health.

“So we started over, found a new design, did some field testing and testing of our own and found a design from DTM that was approved by the National Institute of Health,” said Wehrman.

Then over winter break, they put their 3D printers to work day and night, manufacturing nearly 60 face shields, which they then donated to the Multicare Deaconess Cancer and Blood Specialty Center in N. Spokane.

“It was really just an amazing feeling,” recalled Wehrman. “We all worked really well together and it was so exciting to be able to see our impact like really help other people.”

And Bitz couldn’t be more proud of his proteges.

“These students were right on it. They just did a fantastic job. Conscientious, careful, followed the process, came out with a great product.”

Thursday, Wehrman and her team presented their face shields in the regional Skills USA engineering design competition, hoping to qualify for nationals.

“We’ve done a lot of work on this and I think we did a good job, so I hope we can do it,” said Wehrman.

It would be an added bonus for a team that’s already helping stem the tide of COVID-19 here in Spokane.