Paulus Musters Leads CAPLA Design Thinking (and Building) Efforts to Protect Healthcare Providers from COVID-19

April 8, 2020

Even though the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture (CAPLA) Building at the University of Arizona has been closed since mid-March, Materials Labs Manager Paulus Musters has been hard at work in CAPLA’s state-of-the-art Materials Labs.

Collaborating virtually with members of the new Arizona Makers Fighting COVID-19 group, he’s been designing, building and testing face shields, aerosol boxes and face mask frames for healthcare providers and first responders working with patients who have COVID-19.

“The needs are vast and I am focusing on those items most in demand that I can test and make quickly,” says Musters, whose work began by designing and laser-cutting plastic face shields. Like masks and other protective equipment, there is a critical nationwide shortage of face shields due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Paulus Musters tests a version of his laser-cut face shield.

Musters created several versions of the face shield that have been tested at Banner – University Medical Center in Tucson. Recently, with the help of Drew Cook ’16 MS Arch, a designer with Poster Mirto McDonald, and Dr. Jerald L. Moser, an emergency medicine physician in Tucson, he’s turned his attention to intubation boxes, “a device I’d not heard of until Dr. Sachin Chaudhary at Banner – UMC reached out to us,” he says.

In the last 10 days, though, Musters has become an expert—working with a design originally created by Dr. Hsien Yung Lai of the Mennonite Christian Hospital in Hualien, Taiwan. Musters now has a modified final version under production in CAPLA’s Materials Labs, and plans to ship as many as 20 of the portable aerosol boxes to hospitals across the state by the end of the week.

The boxes, which are placed over patients with COVID-19 as they are intubated, substantially reduce the risk of airborne virus exposure during the medical procedure. View a photo series of Musters building the aerosol boxes published April 6, 2020 in the Arizona Daily Star.


Intubation box
Paulus Musters demonstrates the intubation box he created at CAPLA's Materials Labs and will be providing to hospitals across Arizona.

Musters is now broadening his efforts to include face mask frames, or exoskeletons, to meet a request by a doctor at Carondelet St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tucson—a request made just yesterday. The frames are designed to work with readily available medical cloth such as Halyard H600. The shaped plastic frames allow for secure fitting around the entire face (see video). “I was able to redesign what others were 3D printing and by using our laser cutter can make the frame 60 times faster,” he says. “A prototype was delivered to the hospital last night to test. We’re moving fast. Everyday there’s a new need.”

The largest challenge for Musters and other UArizona makers isn’t the design or making of the equipment. Rather, he says, the difficult work is in acquiring the materials necessary to create the protective equipment. “We spend a lot of time working to get the materials paid for so that we can donate these important items rather than sell them,” he says.

To learn how you can help these efforts by donating materials or providing other support, please contact Dr. Kasi Kiehlbaugh, UArizona Health Sciences Design director, at

Musters, who joined CAPLA in 2007, holds a BFA in Design from Pratt Institute and an MFA in Sculpture from Columbia University. He is a renowned designer, maker and instructor and the founding partner of The Exhibit Guys, which designs and fabricates exhibits for science and children’s museums.

Learn more about how Paulus Musters and other UArizona makers are racing to provide personal protective equipment to healthcare providers and first responders. And see coverage in Desert Leaf: The Catalina Foothills Magazine.

Photos by Drew Cook '16 M Arch.


Paulus Musters, Materials Labs Manager


As part of the Arizona Makers Fighting COVID-19 group, Materials Labs Manager Paulus Musters is using CAPLA facilities and tools such as laser cutters and 3D printers to create face shields, aerosol boxes and face mask frames to protect healthcare workers