May 26, 2020Protecting the Front Lines of COVID-19: Professor Designs and Donates Face Shield for Healthcare Workers
Assistant Professor of Architecture Maged Guerguis saw a way to improve an essential protective device for healthcare workers during the fight against COVID-19, and he responded as architects do: He innovated.
Guerguis, who teaches design and structural technology, began creating a new face shield in March 2020 that was designated U.S. patent pending (No. 29/733,737) in May 2020.
His goal was to improve safety and ultimate comfort for the healthcare professionals working long hours fighting at the front lines of the pandemic.
The shield, named “UT-Shield,” weighs only two ounces, assembles in five seconds and provides improved comfort and maximum protection for medical professionals.
Throughout the design process, Guerguis collaborated with physicians and nurses from UT Medical Center, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and Covenant Medical Group, who helped in testing and providing feedback. Hundreds of UT-Shields have been donated, and more are currently being printed in the college’s 20,000-square-foot Fab Lab for healthcare providers locally and across the state of Tennessee.
“I believe that everyone has a responsibility to help during this time, and if I can utilize my ability to design to make things better, then that is the least I can do,” said Guerguis, who donated time and materials to make the face shield a reality.
UT-Shield consists of only two parts: A 3D-printed, lightweight headband and a clear, 8.5×11” visor. The ergonomic head piece doesn’t require an elastic band, which decreases the chance of contamination while reducing pressure on the user’s head. The protective visor attaches to the headband with a simple 3-hole punch, and its curved profile wraps around the face for maximum protection.
“The headband uses very little material, which in addition to producing a lightweight, more comfortable piece also reduces 3D printing time and ultimately production cost. When the need for face shields is so urgent, time is of the essence,” said Guerguis.
The patent-pending design benefits the medical professional in many ways. The headband follows the curvature of the forehead to allow for comfort over a long period of time, and the clear visor is spaced with maximum clearance from the face to allow for glasses or other medical equipment to be worn comfortably. The design also includes ergonomic end tips to prevent snagging on objects.
“Whether you are designing a skyscraper or a small product, good design principles are the same: Innovative, functional and aesthetically pleasing,” said Guerguis. “For the face shield design, protection and comfort are especially critical for such prolonged use. I went through several prototypes, and with each design iteration, I would think, ‘Is this something I can wear for hours?’,” he said.
Guerguis is an award-winning designer, researcher and educator, who was named the McCarty Holsaple McCarty Professor in 2020. Guerguis has also received the U.S. Green Building Council Emerald Award, the American Institute of Architects Innovation Award, the Autodesk residency award, H. Patrick Lawson Teaching Award, Fast Company World Changing Ideas Award, among others. Guerguis is an assistant professor of Design and Structural Technology at UT. He earned a master of Architecture degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Companies wishing to purchase UT-Shield can contact the UT Research Foundation at 865-974-1882. The University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) is a non-profit corporation that is responsible for commercializing University of Tennessee technologies and for supporting university research.