MacDill Airman mitigates COVID-19 with innovation

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Caleb Nunez
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

As this pandemic continues, people all around the world are finding diverse ways to keep their minds busy. Many people are starting new hobbies like drawing, painting, sewing, gardening and others are taking online courses.

While some are looking for ways to distract themselves, some are making the most of it by finding ways to support relief efforts.

“I was honestly one of those believers that thought this virus would just pass over, but a few weeks ago I realized that the world would endure this pandemic for the long run,” said Senior Airman Julian Hurrey, an air traffic controller assigned to the 6th Operations Support Squadron. “I knew that I had a useful tool in my possession that would allow me to help during a time where such innovation is needed.”

Hurrey has used his social distancing time to fabricate adjustable straps that help hold any mask in place. These 3D printed straps help alleviate the strain on the ears from wearing a facemask for long periods of time, while allowing the user to adjust the fit to create a better seal.

“The elastic from the facemask is wrapped around the hooks of the 3D printed strap where you can adjust the fitting,” Hurrey said. “The strap can then be placed below the ears and around your neck or above the ears and behind your head.”

In the past few weeks, Hurrey has spent an average of six hours a day refining the design of the straps through trial and error to find the balance between print speed, durability and flexibility.

“I have printed over 170 straps and I am still printing and working on improvements,” Hurrey said. “It takes about an hour and a half to print 10, but I am still working on finding the most efficient settings.”

Although this project began as a method to help the fellow Airmen of his squadron, Hurrey hasn’t stopped there. He has reached out to multiple organizations, including Tampa General Hospital to offer his product and services.

“Hurrey’s innovation was on display when he researched how he could help fill the needs for masks,” said Master Sgt. Troy Dilldine, the 6th OSS chief air traffic controller. “He displayed extraordinary leadership, care and initiative to help flatten the curve and minimize COVID-19 losses.”

Hurrey’s values closely align to the Air Force core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do.

“To me, service before self means putting the interests of others before yourself for the sake of a greater good,” Hurrey said. “Many people are demonstrating this by sacrificing fun for the safety of the community and I’m just doing what I can.”

Prior to embarking on his 3D printing journey, Hurrey attended the Air Warfare Symposium, where he listened to one of the most prominent innovators of our time – Elon Musk.

During Elon Musk’s talk, he mentioned one of his famous quotes: “If you’re not failing, you’re not innovating,’” said Hurrey. “That line struck a chord with me and since that day and I use that as a motivation to keep taking new risks every day.”