Alumna of the Month Rachel coordinates Leicester efforts to print PPE


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Helping to fill the gap in the UK’s PPE supply through 3D printing is De Montfort University Leicester’s (DMU) Alumna of the Month Rachel Marshall.

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Rachel, who graduated with an Architecture BA (Hons) in 2018, is the Leicestershire area coordinator for 3D Crowd UK – a group of more than 8,000 volunteers working to provide 3D printed face shields for care homes and NHS workers.

The graduate has been helping to set up distribution centres across the region and organising volunteers and orders, to ensure that the PPE arrives where it is needed most.

She said: “We’ve now managed to deliver more than 2,500 visors in Leicestershire, thanks to more than 100 makers who have volunteered with us, so we have access to a massive number of printers.

“These aren’t just businesses, but also people that happen to have a 3D printer at home. It’s great to see a community really coming together and willing to help in any way that they can.”

Rachel’s role at architectural firm Maber gave her the experience of 3D printing to kick start her involvement with the project.

“In my job we use a 3D printer to make architectural site models for concepts that we present to clients. While I was on furlough I wanted to find a way to help the community and give back in some way,” she said.

Rachel approached DMU to set up the distribution centre at The Watershed, where members of staff are volunteering to quality check, clean and deliver the visors.

She said: “It’s brilliant that DMU has been able to help in such a huge way. Having the team of volunteers and the hub in a central location in Leicester has been incredible, allowing us to fulfil far more units than we could have done independently.

“The ultimate goal is that everyone will have the PPE and protection they need. If it saves just one life or helps a few people then it’s so worth it.”

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In her day-to-day job Rachel works on projects in a range of sectors, from residential, to heritage and conservation. She landed her role before her graduation, impressing the firm at her final-year show.

She said: “Maber came to DMU’s Degree Show, and they offered me a job from there which was so great.

“A lot of what I learnt at DMU, from architectural principles and how to use certain software, to planning systems and building regulations, I’ve now been able to put into practice in my job.”

The alumna chose to study at DMU after a welcoming experience on an Open Day, and because of the university’s international experience programme DMU Global.

“DMU Global was amazing. I went to a summer school in Beijing, architecture field trips every year, and then New York in my final year where we visited an architect’s offices thanks to a contact of our head of school.

“The course field trips took us to Barcelona, Copenhagen, and Berlin. We got to look around inspiring architectural sites and experience the built environment in other countries. It really helped with my final-year project, which was based on a site we visited in Berlin.”

 “My degree was a great experience. Using all the workshops and doing a lot of model-making were definite highlights, and all the teaching was brilliant throughout.”

Although living in Leicester means that she regularly gets chance to walk through DMU’s campus, there’s a lot Rachel misses about being at university. 

“I miss the sense of community that you get from being on the course and the collaborative working in the studio groups. You still get that while working in a practice of course, but in a different way.”

Are you a graduate who has been helping during the coronavirus pandemic? The DMU for Life team would love to know about it. Get in touch through dmuforlife@dmu.ac.uk

Posted on Wednesday 27th May 2020

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