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Dartmouth Engineers Build a Better Face Mask

Aug 01, 2020   |   by Bill Platt   |   Dartmouth Engineering

Mallory Byrd ’19 Th’20 stayed on campus to assist with assembling and distribution.

Associate Professor of Engineering Solomon Diamond and a team of engineers have designed, tested, and assembled high-performance face masks with higher levels of protection than standard cloth masks for service workers who interact with at-risk populations and for members of the community at greater chance of infection.

The development process went through many iterations, based on the concept of incorporating a high-grade filter material into a cloth mask design. Initially Diamond consulted doctors, nurses, and health and safety specialists at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, engineering design colleagues at Thayer, and engineers at Hypertherm.

“This project brought together all the core elements of what Thayer School and Dartmouth are all about—addressing a need in society, technical innovation, human-centered design—and deals with taking ideas from concept into practice, addressing the full range of requirements from supply chain management through to production quality control and distribution,” says Diamond, whose work at Dartmouth focuses on biomedical imaging.

Over time, the team grew from engineers to other faculty and staff, including the Thayer Machine Shop, where Operations Manager Lee Schuette and Technical Instructor Scott Ramsey created laser-cutting profiles and began producing the material components with assistance from the Shop’s Gary Hutchins.

A team of 25 Thayer faculty and staff volunteers have organized home sewing kits with detailed assembly procedures and quality control conducted by Thayer researcher Ryan Chapman Th’19.

Mallory Byrd ’19 Th’20 stayed on campus to assist with assembling and distribution.

“For me, it feels like this is a time to be constantly thinking about how you can help. And what’s kept me going is that there are all of these people at Thayer who are so willing and so engaged with this project,” Byrd says. “It’s so emblematic of the spirit of Thayer engineering that professors and the staff are always thinking of how to employ engineering for the benefit of others.”

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