SHS sophomore’s hobby helping protect medical personnel

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — Shelton High sophomore Josh Mallette’s 3D printing hobby has been a lifesaver for area medical personnel.

When not distance learning, Mallette, with the help of his family, is spending his time producing plastic face shields. Overall, the SHS robotics team member has created dozens of the face shields and donated them to various medical facilities throughout the region.

“I’m so proud of him,” said Josh’s mother, Shannon Mercier, a nurse. “He’s a great kid. He is someone who always thinks of others first … and wants to help people.”

Mallette, who owns two 3D printers, said about a month into the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, he saw 3D printing groups on Facebook asking for people to make plastic face shields to donate to medical personnel in desperate need of personal protection equipment.

“I said to myself, ‘I have the resources, so why not do it, too,’” said Mallette.

Mallette said he understood the need for such protective equipment from his mother.

“I know the real facts about what is happening out there, and the dangerous situations medical personnel face every day,” said Mallette, “so why not help. I didn’t think this would go anywhere. I figured I’d make 10 or 20, then, all of a sudden, we were getting a lot of people contacting us.”

In all, Mallette has donated 50 plastic face shields to St. Vincent’s Emergency Department and drive-thru coronavirus testing site; 10 to the UConn Health Center drive thru testing site; and 10 to Regal Care Rehab in Southington. This past weekend, the family donated seven to ICES Inc., in Naugatuck, five to the Griffin Hospital drive-thru test site, a dozen to Bridgeport Hospital, and several dozen to Shelton’s Hewitt Health and Rehab.

And thanks to Facebook promotion, Mallette now has requests coming in from Bridgeport and Stamford hospitals as well as from individuals and other medical facilities.

“I am awed, but not surprised, by the work that Josh Mallette has been doing on the 3D printed masks,” said John Niski, SHS athletic director and robotics team advisor.

“Josh is a hard working young man who is committed to making the world a better place through his dedication and commitment,” added Niski. “He is a valued member of the SHS Robotics team and his work ethic in that program is unparalleled. He shows up each day ready to take on any task that needs to be accomplished. We are proud to call him one of our own.”

Mallette’s interest in 3D printing began in seventh grade when he was in Robert Swercewski’s Invention Lab at Shelton Intermediate School, he said. The interest became a hobby, and he was able to purchase his own 3D printers.

In his house, Mallette has the two printers running in a spare room; the family has turned the kitchen table into a makeshift assembly line. His mom, stepfather and grandparents spend some two to three hours on assembly. It takes eight to nine hours to print out two shields.

Mallette was using his own filament, but once interest took off, the family created an Amazon wish list, shared it on Facebook, and the donations started rolling in. People have been buying filament, elastic, plastic, weather stripping and hundreds of screws.

Mercier’s Facebook page is a tribute to her son’s efforts, saying she is proud of him “for taking on this project full force and making these much-needed face shields for the medical community.

“He will be printing all month for different hospitals and organizations and it is a family affair to assemble them,” said Mercier. “Thank you so much to everyone who has donated supplies to help him create these.”