Mechanical engineering student creates protective face shields for hospital personnel

"However small, anyone can find ways to make a world of difference for someone else.”

— Dhawal Bhanderi, mechanical engineering junior

Dhawal Bhanderi, a junior in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, is using his 3D printer to make face shields for the personnel at two hospitals in Norfolk, Virginia.

Mechanical engineering junior Dhawal Bhanderi is using his entrepreneurial spirit to help protect some of society’s heroes during the coronavirus pandemic.

He’s making protective face shields with his 3D printer from his family’s home in Virginia Beach while he finishes his classes remotely.  “I am donating the face shields to two local hospitals where workers are on the frontlines fighting the pandemic,” Bhanderi says.

He runs his 3D printer all day to create the headband component of the shield. When he has several ready to assemble, he puts on rubber gloves and attaches the plastic shield to the headband. 

“I can produce 20 quality shields a week, and while it may not sound like a great deal, the medical staff appreciate having this kind of personal protective equipment,” he says.

Each face shield costs him between 75 cents and $1.50. He buys the supplies for the shields from the money he makes from his hobby of buying used electronics online, fixing them, and then reselling them.

The donation coordinators at the hospitals—Sentara Leigh Hospital and Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, both in Norfolk, Virginia—were excited to have face shields because there’s such a shortage, he says.

“Dhawal has taken the initiative to make a difference in his community in these challenging times,” says adjunct professor George Siragusa, Bhanderi’s instructor for the Entrepreneurship for Engineers class. “This kind of leadership is heartwarming and sheds a positive light on our program at Mason Engineering.”

Bhanderi is interested in both research and entrepreneurship. He conducts autonomous boat research in the Vessel Dynamics Laboratory with Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Leigh McCue.

After he finishes his undergraduate degree, Bhanderi plans to continue his research while obtaining a master’s degree in electrical engineering at Mason and delving into the robotics field. He has several ideas for robotics start-up companies.

In the meantime, he has learned that “however small, anyone can find ways to make a world of difference for someone else.”