Plexi-barrier project ensures safer return to campus

plexi-880x300.pngUMS Manager Clayton Cook installing plexiglass barrier

Western Engineering News | October 8, 2020

Back in March 2020 — when what is now the “new normal” was just new — the Advanced Manufacturing Team at University Machine Services (UMS), an ancillary service based in Western Engineering, shifted its normal operations to producing face shields for health-care workers combating COVID-19. To date, the team has created and distributed nearly 14,000 face shields on campus and in the local community.

Fast forward six months — UMS has teamed up with Facilities Management here at Western to create, sell and install plexiglass barriers all throughout campus to ensure a safer return for students, staff and faculty.

plexi-350x200.pngWith the production of face shields slowing down and a shortage of faculty using machinery on campus, UMS Manager Clayton Cook and his team anticipated having to minimize their staffing. Fortunately, through communication with Facilities Management and Procurement Services, UMS heard about the plexiglass barrier work required on campus.

“Facilities Management was going to be inundated with setting up the barriers on campus, and luckily, that’s where we were asked to come in,” said Cook. “It’s really heartwarming to know we have that much support across campus — It brought back our full team.”

With the two teams joining forces, a plan was developed to safely install the barriers on campus. Associate Vice-President, Facilities Management Elizabeth Krische and Director, Procurement Services Peter Jeffs lead the teams in developing an implementation plan in addition to three full-time project managers, who all worked with Facilities Management and UMS to get the University safely open and facilitate barrier orders and custom fits.

“Along with ensuring the protection and safety of our own team in Facilities Management, we strive to provide a safe environment for all on campus,” says Krische. “Our work to encourage physical distancing, including the barrier project with Clayton and UMS, supports that goal.”

Over 250 barriers have been assembled and installed on campus, with new orders still coming in daily.

“I always try to see the silver lining,” said Cook. “These are unfortunate and unprecedented times, but I am so proud to see these partnerships form and witness the comradery among our teams by working together to help keep our community safe.”