VICTORIA -- When fighting a pandemic, our frontline healthcare workers need the proper tools to do the job.

Now, local colleges and universities are answering the call for masks and have mobilized to help fill the gap.

Camosun College has come up with a simple 2D design for a face shield that is cut by a laser cutter and can be assembled within a minute.

“It’s a really simple design, there’s a visor, a band and a strap,” said Matt Zeleny, an applied research technologist at Camosun College’s Interurban Campus.

“With this design we can do approximately 90 per hour.”

That’s roughly 450 face shields per day.

The University of Victoria (UVic) is also responding to the same call. In their case, they are producing masks on 3D printers.

“We’re hoping to produce 100 to 200 a day once we get everything up and running,” said Dr. Stephanie Willerth, director of biomedical engineering at UVic.

“It seems that between our efforts and that of Camosun Colleges, it seems like we’ll be able to meet the demand on Vancouver Island.”

UVic is aiming to produce 4,000 masks in total and Camosun College is hoping to make 7,000.

Two weeks ago, the federal government put out a call for suppliers to join the fight against COVID-19. To date 11-million masks have been produced by private industries across the country.

“This is exactly the kind of innovative, collaborative thinking we need right now,” said Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau on Thursday.

“I know we’re going to see more of it in the coming days.”

The goal at Camosun College is to produce the remainder of the masks by this week’s end. After that, a Victoria based company, A.P. Plastics, will take over production.

But, the production of new masks doesn’t mean that healthcare workers are out of the woods yet.

“They’re looking right now at the fabric sector,” said Richard Gale, director of Camosun Innovates at Camosun College.

“They desperately need masks and they desperately need gowns. There are some companies in town that might be able to step up production for those,” he said.

It’s an innovative partnership between academia and industry, to fill a need, in a desperate time.

The first set of masks will be delivered to Island Health on the morning of Friday, April 3.