UTC South Durham students have been using their engineering skills to help make PPE visors for key workers. The students have been supporting UTC’s Visors for Victory initiative which was created at the beginning of April in response to the lack of PPE available to key workers.

UTC South Durham staff designed the visors and have been producing them using laser cutters in the school’s engineering hall. Since Thursday 2nd April, UTC have donated free-of-charge over 3200 visors to over 100 organisations across the North East, including hospitals, care homes, GP surgeries, and food banks.

Five students have been involved in the initiative so far: Matthew Cowling, Sam Hall, Connor Lowrie, Thomas Shepherd, Connor Tilley and Max Turner. The students, who all study engineering and/or product design at UTC, have been putting their technical skills to good use by helping to manufacture the visors alongside fellow students and staff members.

Tom Shepherd, who is a Year 13 student planning to study Product Design at university, said:

‘I have spent the past 4 years learning practical engineering skills at UTC and when I saw the school begin production of visors to help fight the pandemic I realised I could help out. The design and manufacture skills I had enjoyed learning and developing meant that I was already familiar with the tools and machines used to produce the visors, so it made sense that I should try to help in providing much needed PPE for the NHS locally. I firmly believe that since I have these skills this is the perfect opportunity to use them and give something back.’

Sixth Form student Connor Lowrie has also been making visors at home using his 3D printer. To date, Connor has produced 350 visors which he has donated to key workers, including district nursing teams and care homes.

Some of the students’ parents have also been involved in the initiative, including Max’s mum, Claire Kirk. Max and Claire have been working together to produce the visors alongside members of staff, and were motivated to help by their gratitude to the NHS.

Claire said: ‘When Max heard that UTC were making the visors he immediately asked if we could help. We both have a lot to thank the NHS for over recent years. They looked after my mother who was very sick for a number of years, as well as caring for both of Max’s grandfathers during treatment for cancer. It seemed a great way to say thank you to those who care for us.’

Based in Newton Aycliffe, UTC South Durham is a STEM focused school for 14-19 year olds, specialising in engineering and advanced manufacturing. UTC is one of 20 schools within the UTC (University Technical Colleges) network which are supporting the NHS by making masks and other protective equipment using 3D printers.