Update 2 for DePaul Responds: Protective Equipment for Healthcare Workers

Original here.

Thanks to you, much progress has been made over the past several days and as expected, more work must be done. Led by DePaul, an ever-growing network, including Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Public Libraries, the Museum of Science and Industry, and Northwestern University, has increased production to about 6,500 shields/day, served 44 hospitals, raised over $10,000, and have hundreds of makers contributing to our efforts.

But now is not the time to sit down. Here is a message from Ashley Cohen, BSN, RN, who is leading a group of medical students delivering PPE to hospitals all around the City of Chicago: 

“PPE is the armor that protects our healthcare workers in the war on COVID-19. Due to the shortage that is crippling hospitals here in Chicago, our friends, our coworkers, our clinical professors are already getting sick. They were sent into battle without adequate protection. Hospitals are characteristically sticklers for safety…but are now accepting, even soliciting donations of cloth masks made by private citizens at home. This is because cloth masks are better than nothing at all. Refrigerated morgue trucks are now in use all over New York City to store the bodies of COVID-19 victims because there is no space left in hospital morgues and funeral homes. CDC models predict that the surge currently afflicting NYC will likely hit its peak here in Chicago in the coming weeks. We need all the armor we can get if we are to stand a chance in the coming battle. We welcome any and all help we can get in coming to the aid of Chicago’s healthcare workers.”

If we keep them healthy, they keep us healthy. Donors to this campaign have helped create and deliver 4,000 masks all around the city and state. Every additional $25 that you donate helps us fabricate and deliver 10 additional masks. In addition to your generosity, we are working hard to write grants and secure alternate sources of funding.

We will continue fundraising and creating PPE until there is no longer a need.

As a faculty and community member of DePaul University, I deeply believe in our Vincentian values of service to the community and others. I have been greatly touched by the outreach, kind words, and efforts of our students, faculty, staff and friends all around Chicago and all of Illinois this past week. Times like these show that these values of selflessness and service are values that we all commonly share. They are what’s required to help solve big problems.

This is who we are. This is what must be done.

Thank you again for your generosity. Please continue to share information about this campaign with your networks, and we will continue to keep you informed as to how your gift is helping health care workers across the state.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Newsline Article on PPE Work in Illinois

Our story is getting some traction. Please spread the word to help us raise funds to fabricate and get our PPE to local hospitals. We’ve already delivered to dozens in Illinois, and are ramping up efforts every day!

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

We are fundraising for PPE at DePaul

Quick note on this blog, because there’s plenty of information on our website. Please visit the IRL webpage if you’re in need of PPE in Illinois, can help fabricate it, or can help fund our efforts. All donations are tax-deductible.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Check out the IRL Blog

The IRL blog is recently renovated and with fresh new posts. Keep an eye on it for lists of free tools, projects to do, and online courses we’ll be teaching for hands-on fabrication.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Running a Virtual Makerspace pt. 2 – What We’re Doing

Here are the initiatives that the IRL is currently working on to support DePaul University students. Putting this out into the universe in case its useful for other makerspace managers:

  1. Working with local officials to identify PPE needs, and fabricating things from home for donation to those spaces. This includes, but is not limited to, face shields, N95 membranes, and gowns. More on this soon.

  2. Working on at-home kits that we can send to students to facilitate virtual workshops. The current list includes things like making soap, electronics Arduino kits, and beading.

  3. Developing support DIY programs for underserved students. This includes things like sewing kits for clothing repair and small tool check-outs for home repairs.

  4. Developing support programs for hands-on courses that are now running online. Our students will be staffing a support channel to help students and faculty get the necessary hardware and software set up at home for hands-on learning.

  5. Blog posts. We’ve spun up a blog for the IRL to give students tips on free tools they can use and how they can use them, working with their hands from home, and things of that nature. We’re doing a minimum of one blog post a day.

Hope this helps folks out there! If you have other ideas that your own makerspace is doing, please share with me on Twitter @jaymargalus

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Quick Link Drop – Where I’m Getting My News These Days

There’s a lot of information (and misinformation) flying around right now, so I wanted to share the sources I’ve been using for my news, and explain a little what each source is providing me. My basic criteria are that the information provided must be even-keeled, even-handed, and provide insight not only in where we are at, but also, where we are heading.

Without further ado:

Bing’s Covid Tracker

Great way to zoom in and out on the current outbreak using a map, and to find relational news stories attuned to the granularity that you’re currently viewing.

CDC Coronavirus Updates Page

Trustworthy source of information for how to protect yourself, what to do if you think that you’re sick, and other data that you can pass on to people close to you who might have concerns about what’s currently happening or how to proceed.

Nassim Taleb (on Twitter)

Taleb has generally been spot on and forward-thinking when it comes to what’s currently happening, and how to think about the outbreak from a probabilistic perspective.

The Indicator Podcast

Although it’s not the most important thing happening right now, paying attention to how people are working and how the economy is currently being affected is important. The Indicator is a <10 minute briefing about just that.

NPR’s The Coronavirus Daily

Great, short podcast (~10 minutes) that updates you on what’s happened each day regarding the outbreak. I use this in lieu of watching longer-format news.

Local NPR Station

Fairly obvious for anyone interested in local news that’s provided in an even-handed, logical format. I tend to keep this limited, as the information overload can be overwhelming.

The Browser

Art is still important these days, too! The Browser shares some of the most interesting links that often have more oblique relationships to what’s currently happening. Gives you a good way to think outside of the box.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Running a Virtual Makerspace

Well, today the word is finally in. In addition to working from home this week and next, all labs at DePaul will (most certainly, at least) be closed next term. While unfortunate, this is not a shock, and is certainly the best thing to do for everyone. On the plus side, we’ve been preparing for this at the IRL for the last two weeks.

So, this next term will be a very interesting experiment. How do you run a hands-on learning network online? How do we share the joy of making and tinkering with others while not being able to share the same space with each other?

I think we can do it, and then some. The ideas are already flowing, and I can’t wait to share with you all what we’ve been up to. This is all one great experiment now — something that tinkerers are especially well-suited for.

Ad astra per aspera.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Spacelab – Members Only

Until further notice, Spacelab will only be open to members due to the global pandemic. We have a gym and 3D printers.

This is a good time to be a member of Spacelab.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus


I’ve been thinking about inertia lately. With a full-blown global pandemic underway, many things have been shut down, slowed, or sped up. Before, inertia was in the direction of going into work. Now, work from home. Before, going into school. Now, maybe more people consider home schooling after giving it a try?

The point is: it’s very difficult to stop inertia, but right now many things have been halted entirely. Right now, there’s an opportunity to set inertia off in a different direction.

What are the things that need changing, what about them has changed in the past few weeks, and how can you direct them into a positive direction today?

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus


We just bought one of these tiny little guys for ~$300 at Spacelab. Nice printer, and have been getting pretty decent prints off of it thus far. Check it out if you’re in the market for something inexpensive with decent quality.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus