Tri-County Tech Center Instructor Makes 3D Printed Masks for Health Care Professionals

Scott Wilhite, a CAD/STEM Engineering Instructor at the Tri-County Technical Center has been busy making 3D printed masks that could potentially be used to by healthcare professionals to protect them against COVID-19.

The Career and Technical Center (CTE) instructor’s wife heard about the critical shortages of protective equipment for hospitals on the news and challenged him to see if he could make one.

“Knowing that 3D printing is a large part of my program she challenged me to ask myself if I could help in a similar manner,” said Wilhite. “I researched the article and downloaded the source file into AutoCAD software and streamlined the design. I then uploaded it to a slicer known as Cura and printed the first prototype.”

With full support from his administration, he has since reached out to his local hospital to see if they can use the masks and has even been in touch with the Mayo hospital to offer the prototype as a resource on a larger scale.

Wilhite’s work background includes working for Maine companies such as Bath Iron Works and Cainbro and he has also owned an independent full-service automotive company. After 16 years of working in the trades, he returned to school not only as a student working towards a second master’s degree and a doctoral degree but to teach CADD and STEM Engineering classes for Tri County Tech Center in Dexter.

“I love CTE and I have designed my program to develop students not to just be users of technology, but innovators of it. In my classes, we build a great deal of our equipment. Especially 3D printers. When a student takes a box full of open source parts and builds something that works, in this case a 3D printer, they develop an intimate understanding of how it works. I have found that this also helps my students to get a better grasp on seeing things in the X, Y, Z context, making them a stronger CADD student. CTE is not just project-based learning, it is also problem solving, critical and analytical thinking education. We in the CTE world are not so much teaching our students “what” to think, but more importantly “how” to think. I guess that is what I love about this type of education model.”