Major: Information systems and operations management
Hometown: Triangle, Virginia
In response to COVID-19, senior Denys Kuratchenko and others from the MIX’s maker community had planned to create 3D-printed personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face shields and masks for health care professionals and their patients. When it was announced that Mason campuses were closing, they knew they had to move fast. Kuratchenko retrieved his personal 3D printer from the space and received permission to take another three from the MIX. Soon, he was running a 24/7 “print farm” from his apartment in Triangle, Virginia.
MAKING IT HAPPEN: It takes about four hours to print each frame of a face shield, Kuratchenko said, and, in March, he made more than 65 that were part of a shipment delivered to Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York. He even ordered a fifth 3D printer to increase his production capacity. “I’m not only helping doctors, but also giving their loved ones peace of mind knowing that their family member is more protected,” he says.
THERE IS A HISTORY: This wasn’t the first time Kuratchenko used his 3D printing skills to make a difference in someone’s life. Before transferring to Mason, he was a student at Northern Virginia Community College and worked at the 3D printing lab there. He was tasked with creating a topographical map of Virginia to be used as a learning aid for a visually impaired child at a local middle school. “Seeing the excitement on her face was a really touching moment,” he says.
MAKING THE MOST OF IT: Kuratchenko, who is from Ukraine and has lived in Virginia for the past five years, has worked at the MIX @ Innovation, one of two campus makerspaces, as a maker assistant since coming to Mason in 2018. Mason students, faculty, and staff come in to use the equipment, including several 3D printers, and Kuratchenko assesses their needs to determine how they can best use the technology to achieve their goals.
LENDING A ‘HAND’: When he’s not helping the Mason community on their projects, Kuratchenko works on his own. Earlier this academic year he 3D-printed a prosthetic hand to help people in need through the nonprofit organization Enabling the Future. The creation took about 40 hours of printer operation and 10 hours of assembly.
ON CHOOSING MASON: Kuratchenko, who wants to work in industrial additive manufacturing, knew he wanted to attend Mason in high school. The university’s strong reputation and programs tailored to his interests were selling points. “Having access to all of these technologies is absolutely incredible.”