School of Engineering leaps into making masks

Apr 12, 2020 5:39 PM

Kim Delker, Albuquerque Journal | April 12, 2020

It didn’t take long after news of the global pandemic of the coronavirus hit for members of The University of New Mexico’s School of Engineering to begin using their ingenuity, looking for ways to help.

In particular, news that medical professionals and emergency workers on the front lines lacked basic personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, as well as hand sanitizer, were concerning, yet, being engineers, they immediately saw solutions.

Although the UNM campus has been largely physically empty the last few weeks – with students banned from campus, and faculty and staff working mostly remotely – there were busy efforts underway to get designs and a production process going quickly to help those in need.

Christina Salas, an assistant professor of the Department of Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation at UNM and special assistant to the dean of the School of Engineering for Health Sciences Center relations, was appointed to coordinate efforts.

Salas is familiar with the medical side, working frequently with hospitals and physicians on biomedical devices, as well as the engineering side of designing, building and producing equipment used by medical professionals.

“We saw a great need in the community, and with both a top engineering school and a top medical school at UNM, these forces quickly became aligned and organized behind this effort,” Salas said. “Our hope is to use UNM’s resources of expertise, equipment, and creativity to really make a difference to those in the trenches working with patients.”