By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
Vandegrift junior Hayden Warren has been creating 3D-printed respirators in response to the global lack of N95 respirators during the coronavirus pandemic stay-at-home order.
Over the last three or so weeks, Warren has created between 50 and 60 reusable masks from various sizes. He has also designed and produced face shields, ear guards and N95 covers.
“I have designed, prototyped, and tested various masks in order to create a cheap and easy device that could aid people on the front lines,” he said.
He has worked with the Heart Hospital of Austin with the distribution of the masks for the staff with firsthand exposure to the virus.
In his endeavor, Warren has assembled a team of doctors, engineers and other volunteers mostly from River Place and Steiner Ranch.
“Despite all their different backgrounds, everyone was able to come together to generate great ideas and work together under a similar motive,” Warren said.
Like most people, COVID-19 threw Warren’s life “off its tracks”. All of the cancelations and remote schooling gave him a lot of free time being “locked within his house”.
“All of this extra time felt like a calling for me to use it wisely and be productive in one way or another,” said Warren, who one day wants to be a computer or biomedical engineer.
He has young, immediate family members with respiratory illnesses and understands the danger and fear this virus can cause.
“This has driven me to not only want to help them, but also help those with less obvious immune and respiratory deficiencies,” he added.
Also, Warren said that “the arrogance some young, healthy people had in claiming ‘we will all be fine because we are young and healthy’ was enough to motivate me to work as hard as I could.”
After hearing about the global shortage in personal protective equipment and ventilators, he researched more about these N95 masks and wondered if he could make one himself.
Warren has gained most of his engineering skills from being on a Viper robotics team but has always had a passion for creating things ever since he was a child making things with LEGOs and computers.
“When I first got to creating the masks, I sketched my ideas out quickly and browsed online for previous ideas provided by PhD doctors and engineers doing the same thing as I was,” he said. “I printed a few masks I found online to gain inspiration and then decided to give a crack at it myself.”
Warren got to 3D-modeling and 3D-printing a prototype.
“Initially, I was shocked to find out how effective it concealed around the face and how comfortable it was,” he said.
He then reached out to nonprofits and local hospitals to see if they wanted and approved any of his masks. To his surprise, they gladly wanted them.
He reached out to local professionals to see if they could help print out some of his designs.
Warren also started developing face shields and N95 covers that extend the current lifetime of the N95 products. He is also communicating with University of Texas engineering professors on designing more effective gear.
Earlier this week, Vandegrift anatomy and physiology teacher Karen Pearce was excited to receive an email from Warren about his work.
“Very proud of him for using his time and being creative and helpful,” Pearce said. “Being a contributing part of a bigger community is what every teacher wants for their student, a lot like a parent.”
Pearce says as a teacher she is worrying about her students right now “… are they safe, are they active, are they being creative, are they connecting with others/maintaining community?”
She thinks that Warren is an example of someone who is doing that by being involved with such an ambitious project.
“Hayden has new goals and activities that meet an intrinsic need while helping others which is the real magic and gift,” Pearce added.
Warren has created a Facebook group called “Four Points COVID Responders” to encourage communication and the spread of ideas amongst COVID activists in the Four Points area. There are opportunities for anyone to help, he said.
“This virus has proved to stay around for a while so I’m going to continue to do my duty until the problem is eliminated,” Warren said.