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Entrepreneur Student Gives Back by Making PPE for Healthcare Workers

man wearing mask with prototype in background

Although the Entrepreneurship Garage is closed, student worker, Hartley LeRoy, has been hard at work volunteering his time to make face shields for front-line health care workers.  The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in critical shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) required for health care providers to safely care for COVID-19 patients.  Through the university, the College of Engineering graduate student has been granted special permission to work in NC State Entrepreneurship’s prototyping space – a place dear to the graduate assistant.  

Hartley LeRoy
NC State Garage’s Graduate Student Assistant, Hartley LeRoy

Hartley went to his supervisor, Eren Hebert, Lead Technician for the Garage, and offered to volunteer his time to make the PPE.  “Hartley knows the machines we have in our prototyping space and came to me and asked if he can directly help health care workers by making these face shields.  We saw his passion to volunteer his time to help those on the front lines,” said Hebert.  

LeRoy has been using 3D printers to make face shields that will be distributed to healthcare organizations across the state.  NC State University has been working closely with America Makes, the NC Government, and NC health care interests, while following FDA guidelines, to address the significant gap in the supply chain for PPE.  

LeRoy has worked in the new Entrepreneurship Garage since the fall of 2019.  It was an easy transition having LeRoy work and train other students in the prototyping space in the Garage, as he has been a fixture in NC State’s Entrepreneurial scene over the past four years.  During his sophomore year, LeRoy lived in the Albright Entrepreneurship Village, NC State Entrepreneurship’s living and learning residence hall, he was a finalist in Entrepalooza’s Minute to Pitch It Competition and the Lulu eGames two years in a row.

As an undergraduate student, LeRoy helped launch two different ventures, TRASHR, which was an Internet of Things (IoT) waste management system, and Portal, which sought to create a universal vending machine that could sell anything anywhere.  Although both of these companies failed, LeRoy says his experiences starting two companies have been the most valuable lessons of his college career.  “I wasn’t destroyed when my companies failed. Instead I took the time to figure out why things didn’t work and what I could do differently next time. After all they say the 3rd time’s the charm,” says LeRoy.[pullquote color=’red’ align=’right’]LeRoy says his experiences starting two companies have been the most valuable lessons of his college career.[/pullquote]LeRoy received his undergraduate degree at NC State and is now pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering with a focus on artificial intelligence and computer vision. 

In addition to engineering, LeRoy has a wide range of interests such as producing electronic music, painting abstract art, and just creating things in general.  “In the future, I would like to start my own company that advances technology while protecting our planet and all the people that inhabit it. However, I recognize the importance of experience and plan to first develop my technical and business skills,” says LeRoy.  

When reflecting on the current circumstances students are in because of the pandemic, LeRoy had this advice for other students, “No matter how down you might feel, especially during these weird times, it will often get better given time. However, if things aren’t progressing as fast as you’d like it’s up to you to change things, whether it’s habits, mindset, etc. Others can set you on the right path but the burden is always on you to improve yourself.”

[pullquote color=’red’ align=’right’]Hartley has truly been an asset to our Entrepreneurship Garage community.[/pullquote]NC State Entrepreneurship wishes to thank Hartley Leroy for all his efforts in producing PPE for first responders in our community.  “Hartley has played an instrumental part in our operations at the Garage. As a passionate serial entrepreneur with extensive technical knowledge, Hartley’s been able to provide valuable insights to our 900+ strong community of student entrepreneurs. His dedication to entrepreneurship is augmented by his positive attitude and willingness to give back and help others achieve success in their entrepreneurial projects,” said Hebert.


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