TSU on the frontline in COVID-19 prevention with production of protective masks for healthcare professionals and hand sanitizer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is helping in the global fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The University is stepping to the forefront and using its educational platform to make protective face gear for doctors, nurses and other medical personnel.

Headband designed by TSU 3D printing machines. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations).

TSU is also sharing information on how families can make their own hand sanitizer while producing the germ fighting solution for campus police.

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has asked TSU to use its 3D printing machines to help design a portion of the mask, which has three components: plastic shield, headband and elastic band. The College of Engineering is leading the campus effort to produce the protective gear, which also includes the College of Agriculture and Library Services.

Reporters from all four Nashville TV stations, as well as WPLN (NPR), came out on March 24 to see demonstrations by TSU professors and grad students.

“We are currently fabricating several of the headbands to donate to THEC,” says Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of Engineering. “We have faculty, staff and students involved in making this product from four different sites at TSU. We hope to collectively support the state’s effort to mitigate and limit the spread of COVID-19.”

TSU grad students Oluwatosin Fagbuyi (left) and Rotimi Joaquim discuss printing technology with WPLN reporter. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The masks will be used to protect Tennessee medical professionals, like nurses and doctors, who are on the front lines caring for individuals with the virus. In Italy, the country with the second highest number of COVID-19 cases, more than 20 doctors have reportedly died and thousands of other health workers have been infected since the outbreak.

Oluwatosin Fagbuyi is one of the graduate students helping to make the headbands using the 3D technology. He says he could not pass up the chance “to help save lives.”

“It’s nice to feel like I can help,” says Fagbuyi, who is majoring in mechanical and manufacturing engineering. “It’s an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.”  

In addition to helping with the mask, the College of Agriculture is also making hand sanitizer and sharing instructions on how individuals can make their own. The college is also producing the alcohol-based solution to make available for campus police.

Dr. Sudipta Rakshit in the College of Agriculture talks to reporters about making hand sanitizer. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“There is such a shortage because of the virus,” said Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture. “The idea is to help people make their own sanitizer in case they can’t get it commercially.”   

The process includes mixing ingredients such as isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. But Ag officials say the main goal is to keep the percentage of alcohol greater than 60 percent. 

For information about TSU operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.