Engineers from the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS) and the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society (EGIS) have been working together to design and produce easy-to-adjust face mask buckles for the UAE national cricket team. A team of four – Mohamed Al-Musleh (Assistant Professor at EPS), Muhsin Aykapadathu (Lab and Workshop Manager at EPS), Matthew Mycock (Lab and Workshop Manager at EGIS) and Febin Mohammed (Lab Technician) have volunteered to produce these buckles at the engineering workshop.
The idea emerged when the team realised that people across many sectors are finding it difficult to manage prolonged use of their protective face masks, in some cases causing irritation and friction lesions behind the ears. In the case of athletes, it is challenging to keep their face masks properly secured during intense physical activity which also ends up limiting their athletic performance. The team engineered their solution in response to these key problems by creating a flexible buckle strap that can be hooked on to either side of the face mask elastic and can also be easily adjusted according to the size of the head.
Tadhg O'Donovan, Associate Head of EPS said, “During challenging times like these, we believe we can add more value to our communities if we all pull together as a team, especially when we can leverage our facilities and our expertise to improve the lives of others. As a University, we live, work and prosper within communities that inspire us to innovate and grow, and by providing unique and helpful solutions, we’re bringing them even closer to their goals.”
Led by Mohamed Al-Musleh, the project was launched and coordinated with the help of the technical team during the lockdown. Aligned with Heriot-Watt’s commitment to sustainability, the team have ensured that the buckles are made from thin sheets of recyclable plastic that are cut to shape with a high-precision industrial laser cutting machine. The material has been specifically selected due to its high flexibility and light weight which helps in securing the face masks in place, especially during intensive training and sports activity. The buckles can also be used multiple times after thorough cleaning and disinfection.