Using 3-D Printers to Make PPE, Max Hergenrother Embodies a Spirit of Service

April 3, 2020

On a quiet, tree-lined street in Glen Head, NY, behind the closed door of a home office, a steady hum emits from six 3-D printers. Constantly watching over the progress is Max A. Hergenrother, Director of Technology Operations at The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies. Beyond the subdued silence of this makeshift 3-D print farm is a growing cry from health-care workers who are in desperate need of personal protective equipment during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis that echoes around the country.

The mix of SeeMeCNC and Prusa 3-D printers, some of which were relocated from St. Augustine Hall, now produce disposable protective face shields that Mr. Hergenrother creates to donate to local hospitals to assist health-care workers on the front lines of the global fight against the coronavirus.

3d Printer

For the last 20 years, Mr. Hergenrother has served St. John’s University in various capacities, including as Adjunct Associate Professor for the Department of Art and Design in St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Studio Manager, and Director of Technology Operations for the Collins College of Professional Studies. Under normal circumstances, he coordinates high-level planning for the utilization and evolution of the University’s specialized learning environments, assists with capital planning, and teaches art courses.

Moved by the plight of health-care workers in desperate need of personal protective equipment, Mr. Hergenrother immediately went to work using technology to satisfy an unmet need. With designs widely distributed on the internet, and seed money provided from the University that included a matching donation from Joseph E. Oliva, Esq., Vice President for Administration, Secretary, and General Counsel, Mr. Hergenrother purchased the materials necessary to manufacture the clear plastic face shields and headbands.

“I am grateful that our University’s technological resources are helping the health-care professionals who are at the front lines of this pandemic,” said Mr. Hergenrother.

“It makes me proud to see the unwavering support of our administration to carry out our Vincentian mission to aid those in need. I continue to work tirelessly with our creative and supportive team to do all we can to help protect our citizens and keep them safe and healthy.”

Running the machines four cycles a day every six hours enables Mr. Hergenrother to produce more than 30 protective face shields daily and more than 200 weekly. Working with Anne Rocco Pacione, Chief Information Officer, and Dana L. Chesney, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, to coordinate distribution, the first batch of masks were completed and shipped to Valley Hospital (Ridgewood, NJ), Wyckoff Heights Medical Center (Brooklyn, NY), and NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital.

“Max, like so many members of the St. John’s family, embodies a spirit of service that is deeply embedded in our University culture and the campus community,” observed Simon G. Møller, Ph.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “The best and brightest of who we are shines through during this challenging time.”