By Linden Emerson
Houston Community College (HCC) announced that San Jacinto College, University of Houston at Sugar Land, Fort Bend County Judge’s Office, TX/RX Labs, Alief ISD and Houston ISD have joined efforts to help address personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages for local area medical professionals and first responders in the fight against COVID-19. The collaborative effort – known as H-Force – will be a comprehensive community partnership platform bringing together members’ resources, technologies and expertise to address the Houston area’s growing needs amidst this global crisis.
“Everyone needs to do their part to help, and our institution is honored to be at the heart of this effort to bring educational partners and local organizations together so we can have an even greater impact,” stated Dr. Cesar Maldonado, Chancellor of HCC. Maldonado went on to state, “Through H-Force, we can work together and with the community to support innovative ways to address the significant need for protective equipment to support those on the front-line working to keep our community healthy and safe.”
H-Force members are already supporting a number of initiatives across the city, including the project initiated by TX/RX Labs to utilize 3D printers to produce face shields to assist healthcare workers at Memorial Hermann Health System, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and Baylor College of Medicine.
Houston Community College received an approved waiver from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo to use its high-capacity 3D printing labs to produce face shield components. Production is currently underway. In support of this exciting effort, the HCC Foundation has provided a lead grant of $30,000 to HCC.
- San Jacinto College, Houston ISD and Alief ISD have also joined the effort, utilizing their respective organizations’ 3D printers to provide additional face shield components.
- Fort Bend County and University of Houston at Sugar Land have brought other county stakeholders together to inventory the equipment, products and personnel they can provide to support the effort. In just a few short days they already secured a donation of 5,000 face shields from Sean Mehta, CEO and Founder of Luminess.
All of those in the community who can assist with 3D printing are encouraged to do so, and H-Force is also in need of filament and 3D printing material supplies for those who can make donations. The collaborative is establishing drop off locations throughout the city to ensure community members have easy access to places to take their donations, while also maintaining the social distancing requirements in place throughout the Houston area.
All of this information provided by H-Force and its collaborators (including printing specs, instructions, and donation options), in addition other initiatives H-Force will support, is available on a newly launched website – www.thehforce.org. The website will be a resource that continues to evolve as new projects and initiatives are identified to help increase PPE supplies across the city, county and state. Individuals and local businesses can also support the effort by making a financial or material donation.