South Georgia Tech Precision Machining Instructor using technology to teach

May 11, 2020
hown above are the PPE masks SGTC Precision Machining and Manufacturing Instructor Chad Brown printed using South Georgia Tech's 3D printers .
Shown above are the PPE masks SGTC Precision Machining and Manufacturing Instructor Chad Brown printed using South Georgia Tech's 3D printers .

  South Georgia Technical College Precision Machining and Manufacturing Instructor Chad Brown has been implementing creative ways to teach students online in what is traditionally a hands-on or face-to face instructional model. He has also been utilizing the college’s 3D printers to make masks during the COVID19 pandemic.

  “Normally I would be teaching and supervising students in our Precision Machining and Manufacturing lab,” said South Georgia Technical College Precision Machining and Manufacturing Instructor Chad Brown.  “But once the campus closed in March, we had to find new ways to help our students complete the semester and continue to learn.”

  Brown came up with about six different online resources that he could use to help students keep learning.  He utilized resources such as YouTube, Tooling U, CAD/CAM, Tip of the Day, Custom Content, and Video Conferencing.

  Brown has kept in contact with his students as well as with business and industry partners, advisory board members and has made new contacts through this process of learning to teach remotely.  He also utilized two of the college’s Markforged 3D printers to PPE masks.

  He found a resource for a viable file for a PPE mask from a dental connection.  He designed a snap ring to cover the HEPA filer material for easy replacement and utilized the elastic band from a $1 LED headlamp to make the mask.  The filter is an air purified filter disassembled.

   His wife, Dr. Jessica Brown of Americus Dental, used one of the first masks completed at her dental office which was opened only for emergency cases due to the ADA, GDA, and CDC guidelines to postpone all elective procedures.  She wore a surgical mask over the respirator mask for splash protection.  The masks also needed to be sealed to the face, so the Brown’s used a dental mixture material to make this happen.

  “We have completed about seven of these masks, but they are not feasible to mass produce,” explained Chad Brown.  “Our printers take about 34 hours to print two face masks at a time and another three and a half hours to print the snap ring.  Luckily the printers can run around the clock, but it is not cost effective or efficient to mass produce.  The masks are not intended to be multiuse or multi-person products. Each one has to be custom finished for use and should be disposed of after each use.

  Even though the masks are not feasible for mass production, they have served their purpose locally and also provided a great learning project for Brown to be able to share with his students online and through photos and videos.

   “Many people may not realize that Precision machining is what produces a huge number of both large and small objects that we use in daily life.  Believe it or not, every little piece of an object requires some level of a machinist’s skills from the production of automobiles to surgical devices, aircraft parts and more.  Everything you see has been touched by a machinist,” said Brown.

  Machinists work with a variety of materials such as bronze, copper, glass, plastics, steel, aluminum and many other metals. They may use a combination of drill presses, grinders, lathes, milling machines, saws, and high-speed computer numerical machining centers to get a job done.  Classroom instruction combined with hands-on operation, and now online technology helps give students the skillsets and machining experience needed to be successful in the industry.

  The Precision and Manufacturing program is for anyone who has an imagination, loves to be creative and use their hands. If you can imagine it, we can create it.

  South Georgia Technical College is currently enrolling students for an eight-week mini-mester that begins May 27th. To learn more about the Precision Machining and Manufacturing program at South Georgia Technical College contact Chad Brown at or visit the South Georgia Technical College website at

  SGTC is currently waiving the online application fee and testing requirement for new students during the COVID19 pandemic.  Financial aid is also available through the Federal PELL grant, HOPE Grant and HOPE Scholarship.

Brown’s wife, Jessica, who is a dentist at Americus Dental, is shown above modeling the finished product.  

Also shown is the computer rendering of the mask made on the 3D printer.