Key stage coordinators Sarah Day and Steph Payne put out a request on the school’s social media page for volunteers to help, and were delighted by the response.
“Like everyone, we at Royal Wootton Bassett Academy are very grateful for what frontline workers are doing, and wanted to contribute something tangible to support them,” said Steph Payne.
“With our design and engineering knowledge, we felt that this was a perfect way of doing so.”
Using a Computer Aided Design supplied by model kit supplier Kitronik, and using the faculty’s state of the art laser cutter, the teachers have been able to produce face masks, while D and T colleagues Gemma Revell and Sarah Vaughan have produced scrub bags for NHS staff to safely store their clothing after each shift.
This means clothing can be transported home for washing in order to greatly reduce the risk of contamination.
The staff have also been joined by current and past students in the bid to help protect NHS staff.
Year 11 engineering student Alfie Jones, of West Swindon, has put some of his time in lockdown to use printing 3D tension relief bands for the guards for masks from home. These bands prevent the user’s skin and ears becoming sore during use.
“I spent last year’s birthday money on a 3D printer, because it looked cool, but I stopped using it after a while because there didn’t seem any point to just printing stuff out,” said Alfie, who is planning to go to Royal Wootton Bassett Academy sixth form to do maths and computer science, and then on to a career in engineering.
“But when I heard about what the D and T department were doing, now there seemed a real purpose to it. I already had the material at home, and went online to find templates and put it into my software, made the adjustments needed, and sent it to the printer. The PLA plastic I’m using is flexible and recyclable, and the printer is running 24 hours, and on the first day I ran off 30 bands.
“I dropped the first batch off at the school and they were taken to GWH that afternoon. It’s good to know that I can put the 3D printer to a really practical use to help front line staff in the NHS.”
Ex-Royal Wootton Bassett Academy engineering student Callum Bradley, 20, who is now a service engineer in Andover, has used his 3D printing skills to produce the release bands for the face masks using his own personal resources.
“I saw a post by Steph Payne that said what the school were doing, and I had a 3D computer and material of my own at home, so I decided to contribute,” said Callum.
“I’ve got the capacity to make hundreds of units. I took engineering at GCSE, and it felt good to be able to give back to the Swindon and Royal Wootton Bassett community. I’ve got family members working in the NHS, and although our contribution is just a drop in the ocean, each drop can make a real difference to the individuals receiving the equipment.”
Sarah Day and Steph Payne say this highlights the essential role that engineering plays in the modern world.
“Engineering contributes hugely to solving real-world problems, whilst helping individuals to develop their own team work and logistical skills,” said Sarah Day.
“We hope this inspires the next generation of engineers by showing that what we do now can have a profound impact on how we live our lives in the present and into the future.”