exterior of Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, Burlington MA

Giving to Healthcare Heroes: MIT’s Project Manus

Engineers Put Minds and Hands to Work for Frontline Providers

As the single car pulled up to the loading dock at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, the staff couldn’t have guessed just how substantial the shipment of personal protective equipment (PPE) gear actually was. But the packed car contained 5,000 face shields designed and donated by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Project Manus and Medical Outreach Team.

Project Manus is MIT’s effort to upgrade campus “makerspaces” and foster student maker communities. The group encourages MIT students to create new technologies in university makerspaces, which are communal facilities where students can use tools and technologies to innovate. Martin L. Culpepper, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, and his team — alongside the MIT Medical Outreach Team led by Elazer R. Edelman, MD, PhD, the Edward J. Poitras Professor in Medical Engineering and Science at MIT — have designed and created disposable face shields with extra flaps that fold under the neck, back to both ears and over the forehead. This design provides up to 45 percent more coverage than a typical disposable face shield.

The idea was to create a face shield that could be mass-produced to ease the PPE shortage and protect medical staff. The masks are foldable, so large quantities of the flat, unfolded shields can be easily transported in the back of a regular car. Project Manus expects to produce 50,000 face shields per day for hospitals, providers and first responders. 

“This project was a great example of collaboration across MIT and the employment of mind-heart-hand,” said Culpepper. “When we reached out to others, they dropped everything to put their minds and hands to work helping us make this happen quickly.”

“Keeping our patients and caregivers healthy and safe is a top priority at Lahey,” said Julia Parrillo, the hospital’s vice president of philanthropy. “We’re so grateful to MIT and Project Manus for helping us protect our staff and, in turn, save lives.”