By Debbie Willmschen

When most people think of COVID-19 protocols and how to remain safe in the workplace, they understand the basics of maintaining the proper social distance, wearing a face mask and sanitizing work spaces. But as the lab and studio technician within the Department of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management (TATM), Bailey Knight immediately went into problem solving mode when faced with the challenges caused by COVID-19. Knight realized that much of the machinery within the lab and studio spaces would require special attention.

“Because we really weren’t sure when we were coming back to the building, I had to think about how to maintain the machinery while we were away,” Knight says. “For example, we had to consider machines in the lab space, such as the fabric printers, that can be costly if they aren’t maintained for even a couple weeks. So we had to complete a deep shutdown for everything.”

Knight, who joined TATM in the Wilson College of Textiles in 2019, helps students and faculty with projects on a range of machinery and conducts maintenance on these machines. The labs and studios at Wilson College include sewing machines, laser cutters, embroidery machines, screen printing equipment, floor looms, a 3D weaving machine and more.

With COVID-19, Knight also had responsibility for reconfiguring spaces, such as the fashion studio lab, so that when students returned to campus the work spaces would be safe environments. 

“We had to redesign the fashion studio lab so that students could work in their own workstations and not be near each other,” Knight says. “This type of reconfiguration requires more than just putting up dividers or placing machinery further apart. We had to move heavy machines and redesign the space, keeping in mind that several of the machines have special electrical and space requirements.”

NC State recently recognized Knight’s efforts by nominating her for the Awards for Excellence, the most prestigious honor bestowed upon non-faculty employees, in the category of Efficiency and Innovation. Knight felt honored to be nominated for this award and is dedicated to providing a safe work environment for everyone returning to campus this fall.

“During the transition time, I created an online safety training process for the fashion studio lab, and I intend to implement online safety training modules for all of the other labs,” Knight says. “I want to ensure consistent safety training going forward. Most importantly, as our students and faculty come back into the lab and studio spaces, I want our equipment ready to go so that they can use it when they need it.”