June 23, 2024

SMART Has the Know-How, Museum Offers the Space

SMART volunteer leaders Michael Pecota, left, and Thomas Rogers hang face shields to dry after sanitizing them outside the Flight Technology Hall at the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum in Lexington Park.

The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum may be closed to the public due to the current pandemic, but they’ve opened their doors in a very special way.

The museum has partnered with a group of volunteer makers and innovators to provide a space for the collection, assembly, and distribution of personal protective equipment to local organizations in need.

With local and national supply chains unable to keep up with the demand for PPE supplies, residents and businesses near the St. Mary’s County Technology Corridor have come together to manufacture, assemble, clean, and distribute face shields, ear savers, and anything else the community needs.

Group members, who call themselves the Southern Maryland Agile Response Team, or SMART, have been using their personal 3D printers to make the headbands that serve as the base for face shields and ear savers that will protect the front-line workers in the fight against COVID-19.

Local businesses such as Lowe’s and Planeform donated material and tools to make the clear shield portion of the mask. The volunteers then coordinated the drop-off and pickup of the parts at Taphouse 1637 and sometimes at their own homes.

What was needed was a location that could be dedicated to the assembly and sanitization of the PPE before it was given to various local organizations.

“When I heard this from one of the makers involved with the project, I knew we had a perfect venue at the Pax museum,” said Amy Davis, administrator of the museum. When Davis informed the executive committee of the museum board of directors of her plan to open the currently unused ceremony area to the group, the idea was met with great enthusiasm.

“We may not be able to open our doors to everyone right now, but this is a way the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum can give back to the community during these uncertain times,” Ms. Davis said.

Within 48 hours of the green light to use the museum facilities, volunteers had toured the space with the administrator, set up a workflow, and produced 170 face shields and more than 500 ear savers that are ready for distribution from the 57 volunteers with 3D printers.

Thomas Rogers, one of the team leaders noted that “having the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum step in is such a relief, now we’ll be able to provide for the community in a safer, more productive way. It’s truly amazing to be working in a community that has organizations helping each other, thanks to the Pax museum, Planeform, SOMDLovesYou, and Techport.”

To volunteer to do the 3D printing, CNCing, or laser cutting parts, fill out this Southern Maryland COVID-19 Support Team form.

Contact the Southern Maryland Agile Response Team here.

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