Student innovator making a positive difference

The prime minister has named front line healthcare workers among the pandemic’s heroes. Warren Richmond-Kalaci has turned them into superheroes.
Using his 3D printer, Richmond-Kalaci, Year 8, has been printing face shields day and night for hospital staff and patients at SickKids. And the plastic protective shields are anchored by headbands that feature superhero identities. 
 
“I thought it would be a lot nicer for kids to see masks with cool cartoon logos on them,” says Richmond-Kalaci.
 
It may sound simple, but that’s Richmond-Kalaci’s humility talking. Before he could get started, he had to build the printer from a kit. Once it was up and running, he tested the pattern he’d found and modified it to print the superhero designs he’d created. Then, there was a snag with the shields themselves: his plastic was too flimsy. Luckily, his great-uncle stepped in with a supply of the correct plastic, and Richmond-Kalaci was off and printing. 
 
Two hours are required to print each headband, although some of the more complicated designs take twice the time. Richmond-Kalaci lets the printer cool for 15 minutes between runs. To date, he has printed and delivered 130 headbands and shields to SickKids. He’s also managing to keep up with his schoolwork.
 
Richmond-Kalaci plans to keep printing until the pandemic ends or he returns to school on site. Long-term care facilities will be the next recipients of his amazing efforts.
 
Erica Charbonneau, facilitator for the Atkins Family Design Lab at the Upper School, had been offering Richmond-Kalaci advice on design projects during the regular school year.
 
“I run the lab during lunch, breaks and after school so students can just drop in,” Charbonneau says. “Warren and his friends spend every waking moment they can in the lab. They are very keen and eager and I find that I often have to remind them to rush to their next class.
 
“I can see Warren as a future engineer or designer, for sure. He’s so passionate.”
 
Says Richmond-Kalaci, “Design is probably my favourite class. I love the atmosphere and you can let your creativity do whatever it wants.”
 
His creativity has been bringing smiles to a lot of faces. Front line workers have been emailing him photos of themselves wearing his face shields. The goalie school he attends, Armour Goaltending, has raised funds to ensure he has enough supplies to keep the smiles coming.
 
“I really felt so lucky to have a 3D printer and be able to help,” says Richmond-Kalaci. “I didn’t want to just stand by when I could have helped.”
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