This summer our interns brought our values to life by delivering much-needed face shields to first responders working in hospitals through Project Safe.

It all started with a group of AT&T employees who decided to put their hobby of 3D printing to an important use. Like many others, they decided to build face shields for first responders.

“I was already producing some face shields,” said Jeff Cogburn, principal, advanced technical support. “My wife and I gave them to a friend who has health clinics in the area where they were doing COVID-19 testing and also to our pediatrician.”

Turns out, great minds of AT&T employees think alike. Chad Bailey, Flex Force engineer, was also printing frames for face shields. And Simran Chawla, Technology Development Program (TDP) engineer, was looking for an opportunity to get involved. That’s how Project SAFE (Students Assisting Frontline Employees) got started.

“I felt it was my civic duty to help our first responders,” Chad said. “My wife was ill with pneumonia last fall, and we saw just how critical their care was in helping her make a full recovery.”

“I had 3D printing experience from a capstone project in college,” Simran said.

Project Safe is born

With multiple 3D printing efforts happening around the country, discussions began on how to scale face shield production to help address Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shortages. And that led to Project SAFE, an effort that embodied our corporate value of being there.

“Project SAFE brought AT&T employees and summer interns the chance to have a direct impact by delivering quality face shields to frontline medical providers,” said Ebony Williams, who coordinates the TDP.

3d printing machine

With mentors like Jeff, Simran and Chad, and TDP participants, we had the right people to scale the project. Next, the AT&T Corporate Social Responsibility team provided funds for 25 printers, supplies and other support, including healthcare relationships to help get the shields to hospitals in need. The College Recruiting Team joined to provide intern-powered help.

“We had a group of returning interns this summer that we wanted to experience the AT&T spirit of being there for our communities,” said Josh Mellinger, College Recruiting Team. “They were able to create even more PPE during their internship and also build skills and knowledge that will help them in their STEM-related university curriculum.”

“This shows how a company of our size wins as one by uniting business units and tapping into the vast skills of our talented employees,” said Andrea Brands, director of Corporate Social Responsibility.  “Thanks to Project SAFE, thousands of PPE items have been donated to local hospitals throughout the U.S.”

And were these donations appreciated? Just take a look at the video to see for yourself.

The project concluded with an innovation challenge for all 122 TDP students. They identified a social or medical need in the battle against COVID-19 spread and developed a software solution to help in mitigation.

“Students proposed ways technology can help support healthcare workers and first responders battling COVID-19,” said Ebony.

At the end of Project SAFE, printers will be donated to universities and nonprofits. And while Project SAFE is wrapping up, so many efforts to make face coverings like these are continuing.

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