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Beyond Civic Responsibility: Katie Hollenback

“I have also learned about the generosity of people and the willingness of so many to help financially and in any way they can.”-Katie Hollenback

During COVID-19, thousands flooded out of New York City, turning surrounding states such as New Jersey into the epicenters of the pandemic. And while the news outlets focused on NYC, Katie Hollenback, a New Jersey native didn't wait for others to come to rescue she stepped up to help her hometown.

There was a monumental task in front of her: pioneer remote teaching methods to make sure her students thrived in this new digital frontier, protect and care for her three children, and find ways to help her mom, a nurse in a hospital overrun with coronavirus cases.

Many may have collapsed when faced with such adversity, but great leaders never shy away from a challenge. After learning about the possibility of 3D printing PPE, she dove in and got to work. She dusted off her school’s 3D printers, bought her own, and sent her fleet to work printing ear savers and Budmen face shields.

While the printers whirled away, Katie turned her attention to making the clear poly sheets needed to complete the face shield. Not one to be daunted by tough and tedious manual labor, she started manually punching holes by thousands until her hands hurt. A true innovator at heart, Katie went back to the drawing board to find a better and faster way. She found her answer in her craft vinyl cutting machine and quickly streamlined the process, automating the hole punching process.

As the pandemic quickly evolved and children were at risk, Katie turned again to invention for a solution. Working from the Budmen Face Shield design she rapidly developed a youth edition specifically made to fit children. Resourceful as ever, she had her three children put the new design to the test. She then shared the files publicly to protect as many kids as possible.

Katie reached out to neighbors, friends, and robotics clubs for help, uniting a community and bringing people together during an isolated time.

Reflecting on her efforts, Katie said, in addition to learning a lot about the art of 3D printing, “I have also learned about the generosity of people and the willingness of so many to help financially and in any way they can.”

In her actions to serve her community, family, and students, Katie stepped up to do the impossible. By leveraging technology and inventing products to solve problems Katie's actions are a model of 21st century leadership.

To learn more about Katie:

Follow her on Twitter and Thingiverse.

Face Shields printed by Katie Hollenback. Face Shields printed by Katie Hollenback.
Katie and her sons helping her produce and assemble face shields. Katie and her sons helping her produce and assemble face shields.
Adult face shield and the other Hollenback designed to fit elementary children. Adult face shield and the other Hollenback designed to fit elementary children.
Katie's son modeling the child size face shield she created. Katie's son modeling the child size face shield she created.
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