Local Robotics Team Making Face Shields
A few months ago, Aidan Oddlokken, Bryce Gough and Clay James were planning to compete in the First Robotics Competition and then graduate from Destrehan High School. But the world took a wicked detour and the teens needed to shift their plans.
“When the robotics team’s season was canceled, we decided we should get off our butts and do something to help our community,” said Oddlokken, 18, who plans to attend LSU this fall. “We knew face shields were in high demand as primary equipment for medical professionals, so we thought we could do that.”
The boys had seen other robotic teams around the country on YouTube making the shields using 3-D printers.
“My father thought that we could do this too,” said Gough, 17, who is heading to Louisiana Tech in the fall.
His father, Brian Gough is the media facilitator at the Satellite Center in Destrehan and also serves as the center’s technology coordinator, so he had access to the school’s 3-D printers. With the help of Ken Oertling, superintendent of St. Charles Parish school system, he accessed 12 printers for the robotics team to use in their homes. He also reached out to the community and received a $7,500 grant from Shell Norco for supplies.
“The support from the community has been great,” said Bryce Gough. “It lets us help people who are at risk and it’s so rewarding.”
The team worked with other Facebook groups and were able to instructions on how to create the shields.
They used polylactic acid (PLA), a type of plastic that is used in building models and prototypes and attached acetate sheets to homemade visors.
After two weeks of work, they have already delivered 400 shields to emergency centers, first responders and hospitals, and hope to make 4,500 to 5,000 in the next few weeks.
“It’s been eye opening, said James, 18, who will be attending Colorado School of Mines in the fall. “In the competition we are given a challenge and we must find ways to overcome that challenge. We just shifted when our season was canceled. We’d trained all year for this, but now what we are doing is not a game. We are making a real-life difference in real-life time.”
The teens have received some accolades and much attention for their endeavor, including features on WGNO, Fox8 and WDSU. Others on the team include Savannah McReynolds and Daniel Floyd. The robotics team’s coach is Brian Young.
“The kids are tremendous,” said Brian Gough. “I’ve known them for years. They’ve always had such drive and determination. The way they’ve stepped up to help others is inspiring. It’s what you hope your kids will turn out to be.”
Oddlokken feels like it’s a fitting end to his senior year.
“I was going to sit on a stage and receive honors,” he said, “but that seems less relevant when you are living through a situation like this.”