TSU on the Frontline in COVID-19 Prevention

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove TSU Dean of Engineering

NASHVILLE, TN (March 24, 2020) — Tennessee State University is helping in the global fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The University is stepping to the forefront and using its educational platform to make protective face gear for doctors, nurses and other medical personnel. TSU is also sharing information on how families can make their own hand sanitizer while producing the germ fighting solution for campus police and Nashville’s most vulnerable population, senior citizens. 

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has asked TSU to use its 3D printing machines to help design a portion of the mask, which has three components: plastic shield, headband and elastic band. The College of Engineering is leading the campus effort to produce the protective gear, which also includes the College of Agriculture and Library Services.

“We are currently fabricating several of the headbands to donate to THEC,” says Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of Engineering. “We have faculty, staff and students involved in making this product from four different sites at TSU. We hope to collectively support the state’s effort to mitigate and limit the spread of COVID-19.”

The masks will be used to protect Tennessee medical professionals, like nurses and doctors, who are on the front lines caring for individuals with the virus. In Italy, the country with the second highest number of COVID-19 cases, more than 20 doctors have died and thousands of other health workers have been infected since the outbreak.

In addition to helping with the mask, the College of Agriculture is also making hand sanitizer and sharing instructions on how individuals can make their own. The college is producing the alcohol-based solution to make available for campus police and residents at Schrader Acres assisted living facility neat TSU.

“There is such a shortage because of the virus,” said Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture. “The idea is to help people make their own sanitizer in case they can’t get it commercially. The elderly are among the high-risk groups and we want to do our part to help our neighbors, our community.”   

The process includes mixing ingredients such as isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. But Ag officials say the main goal is to keep the percentage of alcohol greater than 60 percent. 

Both deans, along with faculty, will be available for interviews today, Tuesday, March 24, and will display the production process for the protective mask headbands and hand sanitizer. College of Agriculture personnel will begin making hand sanitizer at 1:30 p.m. in the Bio-Tech Bldg., followed by production with the College of Engineering at 2 p.m.  

Please call Lucas Johnson at 615-812-0827 or Emmanuel Freeman at 229-347-5253 to schedule interviews. Campus traffic is limited and all media are asked to contact TSU Media Relation staff prior to arriving.

For information about TSU operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.