Using technical skills they acquired at Universal Technical Institute’s (UTI) Mooresville campus, NASCAR Technical Institute (NASCAR Tech), some graduates have quickly transitioned from working under the hood to helping produce personal protective equipment, or PPE, for healthcare providers and other essential workers at a time when that equipment is desperately needed.
One of those graduates, Hank Fowler, is a senior coordinator of powertrain testing and machining at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, N.C. In addition to his regular duties at the center, he’s been volunteering his time to produce components for face shields used by doctors, nurses and other first responders to reduce their exposure to COVID-19. NASCAR offered up its facility and 3-D printers for the effort, and Fowler was quick to sign up for shifts to help produce the critically-needed equipment.
“Anybody who calls us with a need, we’re trying to help,” said Fowler. “I’m so appreciative of the support we’ve received from NASCAR because they’re giving us the opportunity to do this. We’ve delivered more than 500 units so far, all over the country and locally, and it’s a great feeling to be able to help essential workers do their jobs more safely.”
Volunteers are running the 3-D printers about 18 hours a day to create the face shield components, while others are cutting the plastic for the shield itself. One of NASCAR Tech’s local industry partners, Roush Yates Engines, is also cutting plastic for face shields. Graduate Madison Conrad, who’s worked for Roush Yates Engines since she was a NASCAR Tech student in 2017, says they’ve been able to produce more than 2,000 face shields a week using water jet technology at their Mooresville, N.C. facility.
“We have a lot of employees who are versatile and talented, and it’s been incredible to see how everyone is coming together,” said Conrad. “We have technicians who’ve transitioned from the race shop, and this is keeping them working while racing is on hold. Doug Yates has always committed to helping the community and doing the right thing, and he’s really stepping up in this time of need.”
Roush Yates Engines is also producing aerosol cabinets used to protect healthcare providers, and they’re working with medical equipment company Biomed Innovations to get FDA approval to produce ventilator components, while also looking to manufacture ventilators themselves.
“We could not be more proud of the work our graduates and industry partners are doing right now to produce PPE,” said Jennifer Bergeron, campus president, NASCAR Technical Institute. “We have graduates from our CNC Machining program who have gone to work in the medical industry, but this really goes to show that the technical skills we teach our students apply to today’s workforce and industry demand.”
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