Photo: emx_20200506_mot_sports_ntigrads_p1_NASCAR Tech grads show versatility during desperate time of need

 A NASCAR Tech volunteer at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord uses a 3-D printer to produce components for face shields, which will be donated to help protect essential worker. 

Consider it a form of thinking and performing outside the pit box.

Using technical skills they acquired at parent organization Universal Technical Institute’s NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, some graduates have quickly transitioned from working under the hood to helping produce personal protective equipment for healthcare providers and other essential workers at a time when that equipment is desperately needed.

One of NASCAR Tech’s local industry partners, Mooresville-based Roush Yates Engines, is cutting plastic for face shields

Graduate Madison Conrad, who has 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 local 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.”

Roush Yates Engines is also producing aerosol cabinets used to protect healthcare providers, and it is working with medical equipment company Biomed Innovations to get FDA approval to produce ventilator components, while also looking to manufacture ventilators themselves.

Hank Fowler, another NTI graduate, is a senior coordinator of powertrain testing and machining at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in nearby Concord.

In addition to his regular duties at R&D Center, Fowler has 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.

“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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