By Zach Driver | April 24, 2020
Like thousands of people across the country, Andrew Jarvie doesn’t have the luxury of staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a senior engineer with John Deere, Jarvie continues to go into work each day helping to keep America moving forward. But it didn’t take long for this CEC alumnus to see that one small device could protect the lives of many essential workers.
Jarvie, a mechanical engineering graduate, works in the John Deere Accelerated Design Verification (ADV) test lab in Milan, Illinois. While the company provides its workers with necessary PPE, Jarvie still saw the potential for more protection.
“I realized that while my group was working hard to keep distanced, we had numerous door handles that we had to touch,” he said. “Because it’s a test lab, for both safety and security reasons, we can’t just prop the doors open. I thought, we have a small 3D printer here, let’s make something to assist.”
Using a home 3D printer he had purchased not long before the pandemic started that also happened to be the same as the ones provided at work, Jarvie set out to find a simple design that could prevent the spread of the virus.
“We all have to wear ID badges on badge reel clips to get access into the lab, so I thought let’s make it so it attaches to our ID badge,” said Jarvie. “It was awesome that in a day and a half I went through seven design iterations. After getting the general idea down, I tried to optimize the design for strength, speed of print, ability to work on many different sized door handles, and ability to nest them on the print bed to maximize the number I could make in one print session.”
Right now, Jarvie has printed close to 800 of the door openers that allow users to “grasp” a door with an angled hook. He started by sending some to his mom’s friends in New York and others who were in need, but his demand quickly picked up. John Deere now wants to make close to 10,000 devices.
“I started sending them out to our facilities that are still open and to groups that travel a lot between buildings like security or building maintenance folks,” said Jarvie. “They’ve all loved them. The company is now trying to mass produce them to send out to the employees.”
Friends and family members are now sending money to help purchase the raw materials needed to print the door openers. Jarvie says he is blessed to have such great support.
“I’ve had to work really hard to get where I am, but life has been very good to me,” he said. “It’s been great to find a way to help others.”
Jarvie credits his time spent at the CEC doing undergraduate research and participating in events outside of the classroom for his success in the workplace.
“I was active in a lot of those things, and you learn how to take the theory in class and use it to solve problems,” he said. “I had a lot of great professors that demanded a lot out of us academically, but I’d say those extra-curricular engineering activities are what made the biggest difference.”
While the CEC class of 2020 might not have a traditional end to their senior year, Jarvie offers them advice on entering the professional world.
“When entering the workforce, try to keep realistic expectations,” said Jarvie. “It’s a balance of having confidence in your ability, but you have to leverage the knowledge of those around you. Speak up and take projects and problems head on. Offer to help on anything if nothing else to learn more about something to get your name out there.”