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Austin Peay State University students step up to help GIS Center ‘help those who are protecting us’

 

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – When Tennessee Governor Bill Lee last month asked colleges and universities if they could help make protective equipment for health care workers, Austin Peay State University (APSU) students answered the call. 

Elijah Henderson tests a mask at the Austin Peay State University GIS Center. (APSU)

Elijah Henderson tests a mask at the Austin Peay State University GIS Center. (APSU)

Graphic design student Michael Hunter, a worker at APSU’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Center, took the lead on designing and building a 3D-printed prototype shield. Within a week, universities and technical colleges across the state were using Hunter’s design to produce face shields for medical workers.

Austin Peay has led this effort from its genesis, and the GIS Center delivered its first shipment of face shields to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) on Wednesday, March 25th. As of Monday, April 6th, the GIS Center has shipped 24 boxes containing 864 face shield frames and nearly 9,000 face shields to the TEMA. 

GIS Center Director Mike Wilson and Project Manager Doug Catellier are leading the effort, but they are getting around-the-clock help from Austin Peay State University’s students.

In addition to the students who already work at the GIS Center – including Rachael Davis and Jennifer Stephens – eight other students have stepped forward to help with the effort. 

They are Ciara Grandberry, Elijah Henderson, Lakiyra Holt, Dacorian Lockhart, Brady Rhoton, Bryndon Rhoton, Kenneth Shipley and Jonathan White. 

‘There is no better time than now to help’

Ciara Grandberry places plastic for face shields into a laser printer. (APSU)

Ciara Grandberry places plastic for face shields into a laser printer. (APSU)

“I saw on the news about what GIS was doing and I just had to be a part of it,” Holt, a biology major, said. “I wanted to help out because of all of the doctors, nurses, scientists who are risking their health for the world.

Joining GIS could help protect those who are protecting us,” Holt continued. “My main concern right now is with those who are helping the sick get through this.”

Shipley, a computer science and engineering physics student, agreed: “With the situation we are all dealing with, there is no better time than now to help those in the hospitals risking their lives to save others in need.”

Bryndon Rhoton, a computer information systems student, was already at the center working on another project but decided to volunteer his time to help create the face shields. 

“The main concern I have is if our health care system can hold up due to the daily increase of cases across the country,” he said. “We are doing this to help limit the spread of the virus.” 

 


‘My professors understand the tough times we are all facing’

The virus also is affecting the students directly. Austin Peay State University has moved all classes through the spring and summer terms online, and most students are doing their classwork from home.

“The pandemic has been a big change in everyone’s life,” Henderson, an engineering technology student, said. “School work has been difficult considering I am a more hands-on and eye-learning person.” 

Grandberry, a healthcare management student, agreed: “My classes are a lot harder. My main concern is staying safe and protecting everyone from this dangerous virus.” 

Holt said she’s also adjusting to online learning. 

“That is not my learning style,” she said. “My professors are always there to help and they understand the tough times we are all facing right now. 

“School was a safe and fun place for me,” Holt added. “I got to hang out with friends and meet new people. Now that’s all over.” 

The students said they understand, though.

“If someone doesn’t work at an essential business or isn’t going out to help with the pandemic, they need to stay home,” Shipley said.

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