College - Author 1

College of Engineering

Department - Author 1

Mechanical Engineering Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Mechanical Engineering

College - Author 2

College of Engineering

Department - Author 2

Mechanical Engineering Department

Degree - Author 2

BS in Mechanical Engineering

College - Author 3

College of Engineering

Department - Author 3

General Engineering Department

Degree - Author 3

BS in General Engineering



Primary Advisor

Jim Widmann, College of Engineering, Mechanical Engineering Department


The COVID-19 pandemic poses new challenges in many aspects of life and society. Being that the prime ethical responsibility of engineers is to keep people safe, our sponsor, John Nielsen, asked us to develop a solution that addresses a current or anticipated need related to the ongoing COVID- 19 pandemic. We entered a needs-finding phase to search for problems caused by COVID-19 that people want or need to be solved. We identified K-12 education as an area that has undergone drastic changes due to the pandemic. After conducting interviews with educators, we found that K-12 teachers need a way to return to the classroom safely without relying on the decisions of their students. Our project addresses the following problem statement: K-12 teachers need a way to feel safe during the COVID-19 pandemic so that they can return to in-person teaching. Based on our interviews, guaranteeing the enforcement of safety protocols makes K-12 teachers feel safe. We decided to build a toolbox of devices to help teachers enforce sanitation and personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols. The sanitation device is an automatic disinfecting spray placed above high touch surfaces, like doorknobs, that automatically sanitizes the desired surfaces after any individual touches it. The PPE device is a face shield with a microphone and speaker that enables teachers to overcome the tiring and difficult task of speaking over a face covering. For our toolbox prototype, we purchased or 3D printed all the components. Our automatic disinfecting spray prototype uses a motor and cam controlled by a microcontroller to actuate a nozzle that sprays liquid sanitizer. The system can attach to doors or other flat surfaces via an adhesive mount and adjustable arm. The face shield prototype consists of a microphone and speaker attached to a shoulder-mounted face shield. As we manufactured and assembled our toolbox, we tested individual components and subassemblies to ensure that they operated as expected and would properly integrate into each system. In addition, we performed usability testing for the completed components with teachers and friends. The responses from our user testing indicated the face shield was easy to operate and effective. While the disinfecting spray could use improvements in usability, it functioned as expected. Based on feedback from our usability testing, we recommend reducing the bulkiness of the overall disinfecting spray system and improving the adjustability of the mounting. We also recommend further testing in a wider range of environments to ensure all use cases of the toolbox are covered. We need further nozzle and adhesive testing for the disinfecting spray as the current nozzle tends to leak and the adhesive leaves behind a sticky residue when removed. Moving forward, to reduce the toolbox cost, we recommend pursuing mass manufacturing including purchasing components in bulk and injection molding instead of 3D printing. We also recommend replacing breadboard and wire circuits with custom PCBs for cleaner packaging and less unnecessary electronics parts. Overall, the face shield and automatic disinfecting spray toolbox allows teachers to focus their attention on what really matters, teaching, while maintaining a safe environment.