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‘Stock exchange’ mutually beneficial investment

A trade between educators at Pennsylvania College of Technology and the Central Columbia School District is a “win” for health-care workers and an elderly mother during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eric K. Albert, an associate professor of automated manufacturing and machining at Penn College, recently traded plastic filament material to Tom Gill, a science teacher at Central Columbia High School, in exchange for a dozen rolls of toilet paper.

The five spools of plastic material will allow Gill to make 150 to 200 more face-shield frames for area health-care professionals, and the toilet paper will alleviate a concern of Albert’s soon-to-be 96-year-old mother, Elizabeth.

“Once you get to be that age, a person tends to become obsessive about certain things,” Albert chuckled. “For my mom, toilet paper is one of those things.”

Gill sought Albert’s assistance after running out of PLA, a common plastic filament material for 3D printing. Gill has been using his own 3D printers to manufacture the frames. Acrylic sheets are attached to the frames for the shield component. Besides the toilet paper, Gill also gave Albert 300 surplus acrylic sheets to help him continue the same manufacturing.

The two educators worked together for several years as instructors for Penn College’s SMART Girls program, which encouraged high school-aged girls to challenge themselves in math and science. From that experience, Gill knew that Albert had a personal stock of raw materials. Albert frequently makes items on his own 3D printers to show his additive manufacturing students.

Albert has used such materials during the pandemic to produce both face shields and a vent splitter.

The duo practiced social distancing in exchanging goods at an area parking lot. Albert then shipped several rolls of the toilet paper to his mother who resides at Riverwoods, a retirement community in Lewisburg.

“I’m now her favorite son,” Albert said. “Of course, I’m her only son.”

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