The Clueless FTC members work on creating face shields for health care workers. Courtesy photo

San Diego teenager Emily Tianshi said she knows firsthand the impact of the deadly COVID-19 disease. After all, she said, a family friend was one of the first people to become infected and die in China as a result of the new coronavirus.

With her friend in mind, Tianshi and her peers at The Clueless FTC, a local robotics team, sprung into action and created more than 400 usable face shields for San Diego health care workers. The face shields, which were created with the help of donations, were given this month to Sharp Healthcare and Kaiser Permanente, among other area hospitals.

“The Clueless, as a team, is well-known for getting large projects like this up and moving very quickly,” said Tianshi, a junior at The Cambridge School. “It would be a failure knowing that we had the capability to save lives but didn’t make it happen. The COVID-19 outbreak will be one every person remembers for the rest of his or her life. I want to look back at this time knowing that I tried my best.”

The top-ranking robotics team is made up of 13 members from The Cambridge School, The Bishops School, Westview High School, Valhalla High School and Mesa Verde.

Nicholas Liu, a 15-year-old sophomore at The Bishop’s School, said the robotics team researched different designs of face shields before searching for supplies. The team also connected with local doctors to find out what kind of face shields they needed to best protect themselves.

The Clueless FTC robotics team is made up of 13 students from The Cambridge School, The Bishops School, Westview High School, Valhalla High School and Mesa Verde. Courtesy photo

“I thought that the Budmen design was better because it could be printed more reliably — the top of it was covered to prevent liquids from coming in, the foam and elastic made it more comfortable, and the plastic sheets are easily replaced,” Liu said. “I also spent a lot of time researching the materials needed to create it.”

The end result of the teenagers’ project? A thankful group of health care workers who confirmed the face shields are usable.

In a statement, Kaiser Permanente said the hospital is grateful for the donations from the students.

“During these challenging times, Kaiser Permanente has been receiving an outpouring of support and generous donations from several individuals, organizations and local businesses throughout the county, for which we are very grateful,” the statement read. “We recently received 44 face shields from students at the Cambridge School, which will provide an additional layer of protection from COVID-19 exposure to our frontline health care workers. We are grateful to these students, and offer our heartfelt thanks for their donation of this valuable personal protective equipment.”

Tianshi and Liu said they hope to create at least 1,000 face shields during their time at home. However, they’ll need more donations to keep the effort going.

So far, the team has raised $3,000 from a GoFundMe campaign. The students have also received donated materials from 3D Systems, Torrey Hills Technologies and O’Sullivan Films.

“The doctors we contacted were desperate for any form of PPE (personal protective equipment),” Tianshi said. “One-thousand shields are a tremendous impact for the size of our team, and we are extremely proud and humbled to help 1,000 people.”

For more information about The Clueless FTC’s effort or to make a donation, go to