(Purdue University photo)

Purdue University faculty, staff and students need volunteers to help to provide isolation gowns for health care workers and first responders across Indiana. Here, Kshitiz Gupta, graduate research assistant in mechanical engineering, assembles safety glasses in Purdue’s Indiana Manufacturing Competitiveness Center. The team already expects to deliver more than 1,000 face masks, glasses, gowns, caps and shoe covers this week.

WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue University’s volunteer group of faculty and staff is asking for help to provide isolation gowns for first responders and health care workers dealing with the COVID-19 virus.

The demand for the isolation gowns is great, so the group is looking for volunteers mainly to sew the gowns, ideally from home.

Volunteers may sign up for one or more shifts by completing an online form.

Nathan Hartman, Purdue’s Dauch Family Professor of Advanced Manufacturing and head of the Department of Computer Graphics Technology, is leading the effort. Hartman also is co-executive director of the Indiana Manufacturing Competitiveness Center, located at Purdue.

“We have requests for thousands of gowns that need to be filled ASAP,” he said. “We need volunteers to come to campus to sew sets of gowns. It helps to have some experience for the sewing.”

Additional volunteers are needed to help at the Indiana Manufacturing Competitiveness Center with preparing and packaging other personal protective equipment for shipping.

Hartman is asking volunteers participating on campus to wear a mask. Training also is being offered for sewing gowns at one’s own home or workspace.

The gowns are being created from Tyvek, a synthetic, waterproof material that is very difficult to tear but can be easily cut with scissors.

Gowns, along with caps and foot covers, continue to be the biggest requests since the Maker volunteer group began their efforts on April 27. They also manufacture safety glasses, face shields and disposable connectors for ventilators.

The group delivered almost 1,000 pieces of personal protective equipment last week and expected to finish this week with another 1,000 pieces. It has received assistance requests from 20 organizations and counties in Indiana.

The volunteer Makers group has approximately 40 faculty and staff members participating, representing Purdue Polytechnic Institute, the College of Engineering, the College of Pharmacy the School of Nursing, and Division of Consumer Science, as well as Birck Nanotechnology Center, Ray W. Herrick Laboratories, the Bechtel Innovation Design Center and the Envision Center for Data Perceptualization.