The COVID-19 outbreaks across the globe have caused skyrocketing demand for personal protective equipment, or PPE. This increased need has strained suppliers, causing massive shortages for healthcare workers and researchers who rely on this equipment to protect themselves and their patients and continue their work.
When USC requested PPE donations, the Trojan family answered the call.
Some went above and beyond, like Qihong (Jeffrey) Wang, a USC Viterbi alumnus who graduated in 2019 with a degree in electrical engineering and cinematic arts, who donated 33,000 masks to USC Viterbi. Wang, who grew up in China, procured so many masks through family connections to Chinese factories that manufacture this invaluable equipment. Wang, who is currently working at an internship in L.A., hopes his donation will help USC Viterbi researchers and allow Ph.D. students to graduate on time.
“When I found out there was a need, I told my parents that we have to donate some masks to USC,” Wang said. “My family and I are honored to be a Trojan family, and I think it is my responsibility to help my alma mater when USC needs me.”
Wang’s donation went directly to USC Viterbi and was distributed in late May to USC Viterbi Ph.D. students and professors conducting research.
They couldn’t have come quick enough. “Wang’s contribution helped to give us a sense of security that we could provide appropriate protection for researchers upon their return and alleviated any fears that research would be delayed due to a lack of PPE,” said Assad Oberai, a USC Viterbi professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, who, as the current interim USC Viterbi vice dean of research, is in charge of collecting PPE for the engineering school.
“We were working on research restart and getting researchers back to campus and doing this meant making sure that everyone had the proper PPEs, including face coverings,” Oberai said. “This was at a time where some of these supplies were not easy to come by, and Wang’s contribution was very helpful. We are very grateful for his donation.”
Added Ellis Meng, the Shelly and Ofer Nemirovsky Chair in Convergent Bioscience and professor of biomedical engineering and electrical and computer engineering: “Having immediate access to masks after reopening was crucial and gave peace of mind to the graduate student researchers and research staff, for whom a major disruption to their work can upend their career trajectory and plans. I was delighted and appreciative of Jeffrey’s generosity and contribution towards allowing young researchers to safely continue their work.”