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High School Robotics Team Creates Face Shields with 3-D Printer

Posted by Bill Cunningham

May 11, 2020 4:06:30 PM

Bionics logoHigh school football games dominates Friday nights in Southwestern Ohio. Now new competitions are launching uber-smart high-school teams into technology based competitions. The Loveland Bionics Tigers are one such team that have excelled in winning local, state and regional robotic competitions. (SugarCreek is one of their sponsors!)

What’s a team like this to do when they cannot travel, compete or even get together thanks to shelter-in-place orders? They focus their technology skills on solving COVID-19 problems

Bionics-Tigers-adjust-3D-printerThe Bionics Tigers, led by junior Chris McKenzie, are creating face shields for medical professionals and hospitals to reduce the scarcity of Personal Protection Equipment. The protectors help the medical workers stay safe and lower their chances of exposure. Using 3-D printers, the team “prints” the headband. The plastic shield gets three-hole punched and attaches to the headband. After assembly, the finished products are removed with gloves, sanitized, and put in gallon-sized Ziploc bags. The Tigers found a local group accepting and coordinating donations for area hospitals like Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Tri-Health, Ohio CHN clinics, and more. They have supplied over 400 face shields and are working on many more—way to Go Tigers #Tigerstogether.

ChrisMckenzie-1Chris is the son of Rick McKenzie who works as a Manufacturing Controls Engineer at SugarCreek – and keeps all of our automation systems running smoothly. Although Rick says he is biased, he believes that “Chris has a lot of leadership and technical skills which I think will suit him very well as he gets into the work place.”

He started working with computers at a very early age and programming apps for his phone as early as 6th grade.  Most of what he has learned he has learned on his own through books, the internet and making contact with other experts.  Yet another valuable life skill.  Rick notes that "last year, I gave the team a few brief lessons on how motion profiling and motion control works on industrial equipment to create precision movements.  Chris used those concepts supplemented with his own research and used all of that to add splined motion profiling to their robot this past season which increased the speed and accuracy of the robot.  Lately, he has taken to learning the mechanical side and has learned how to create 3D CAD models in Solidworks which it the predominant 3D development software used by mechanical design engineers."  All of the kids on the Bionic Tigers design/build team learn and use Solidworks. 

The stay at home order and social distancing has been a tough adjustment for all the kids.  Normally, this is the time of year when their competitions would be done and they would start to ramp up their community outreach to show younger kids (and some adults) how science, math and technology not only changes lives but how it can be fun too.  With a lot of extra time at home with access to 3D printer and a desire to do something to help, printing face shields was the perfect project.  Chris found the group on Facebook, spent some time corresponding with the organizers and learned specifically what they needed.  He started printing and worked to get others on the team involved.  He also figured out how to increase the print time so he could print more per day.  


Loveland High School’s FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Team 10464, The Bionic Tigers, competed at theMaryland FIRST Tech Challenge State Championship that took place in Westminster Maryland. On March 1, 2020, fifty-two teams from seven different states came together to compete for five advancements spots to the FTC World Championship in Detroit, MI. The Bionic Tigers won or placed in four out of seven awards including: 2nd Think, 1st Connect, 2nd Motivate, and 3rd Inspire which earned The Bionic Tigers one of the five coveted invitations to the FTC World Championships.

Bill Cunningham

Written by: Bill Cunningham

Topics: Community Engagement