Top Nav Breadcrumb

DP graduates support frontline COVID-19 workers

Diploma Programme (DP) graduates Tiago and Keno Beck share how their masks are protecting individuals who are working tirelessly to treat patients with COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

DP graduates Keno and Tiago Beck building the masks.

By Keno and Tiago Beck

As we all adjust to a new reality due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to understand that we all play a significant role in finding a solution to this pandemic. Diploma Programme (DP) graduates Tiago and Keno are making their contribution through masks, and they are encouraging the IB community to share their contributions.

How are you guys coping with the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic?

Tiago: All things considered, we are handling it well. I was in Rotterdam when the pandemic started spreading across Europe and my roommate’s mum, who is a general practitioner (GP), advised me to go back to Germany after she treated a patient who caught the virus. Keno and I are currently in our parents’ house in Heidelberg, and we are very fortunate to have access to a supermarket with enough flour and toilet paper in stock.

This pandemic seems very real to us because it is one of the biggest challenges our generation has faced, and we are very happy that everyone is working together to find a solution. Our hearts go out to everyone who has been affected by the virus. Also, this pandemic is unlike anything we have experienced before, and we are happy to see everyone practising social distancing to flatten the curve.

It’s been amazing to see how everyone is coming together to help one another. For example, there is a group on Facebook called Open source COVID19 Medical Supplies that allows people to share their designs for masks and respirators. These designs are constantly being adapted through feedback from doctors all over the world.

What inspired you to create the protective masks?

Tiago: I have always enjoyed studying different viruses―I even modelled the outbreak of H1N1 in Singapore for my maths IA. When I did my internship with the Red Cross, I brought patients with serious viruses (Noro-virus, MSRA) to the hospital and it was necessary for me to wear the full hazard suit and a mask. With memories like this and with my fascination for medical research, I found a certain calling in this project.

Keno: I specialized in 3D printing and aerospace engineering. The moment we decided that we wanted to do this project, I thought, “why not use the materials that we already have”? The project came together very quickly and before you know it, we were printing masks every day. We made 10 masks for University Clinic Heidelberg, and we have made 65 more (and counting) for old people homes, local GPs, OB-GYNs, paediatricians etc. Team work and collaboration played a big role in the success of this project.

Two 3D printers that Keno and Tiago use to create masks.

How did your DP experience help with this project?

Keno: I have always seen myself as a technical guy, and so I enjoyed studying maths and physics. The DP, however, allowed me to expand my horizon and to do things that were not purely technical. For example, through economics higher level (HL), I learned about the concept of supply and demand which helped us understand the dynamics and considerations of the project.

Tiago: The DP gave me a special set of skills considering that I am not a technical person at heart. It certainly made me a better communicator and that played an instrumental role in this project.

Having the confidence to pick up the phone or write an email to a company asking them for resources is no easy task, but the DP enabled us to do that. Furthermore, creativity, activity, service (CAS) gave us an opportunity to organize big events such as Model United Nations (MUN) Conferences. We organized and attended several conferences, and that gave us an opportunity to become better communicators and meet incredible people.

The DP also taught us the importance of perseverance. It is extremely hard to hear, ‘no’, a thousand times, but all you can do is pick yourself up and try again. We reached out to 10 different companies, and only two of them came back to us to help us with the project so it’s important to never give up.

What have you learned from this project?

The biggest thing we have learned is the importance of community. It’s so crucial for us to stick together during this time in which the virus is affecting everyone, some more, some less. In our town, there is a sign that lists the needs of the community, and people are going out of their way to fulfil these needs. For example, we have people who are helping the elderly with their groceries and it’s heart-warming for us to see how the community is come together. We are especially happy to also see how the IB community is coming together to help each other out during this period. Our high school were the ones that reached out to the IB and made this article possible in the first place. Now we are just curious where it will lead us, perhaps other students will be motivated to do a similar project of their own.

The station that Tiago and Keno use to build the masks.

What advice do you have for graduates who will continue to higher education or pursue other endeavours?

The biggest piece of advice we would give to graduates is not to worry too much about the future. We both set high expectations for ourselves and we felt the pressure to deliver amazing results, but we would advise you to take life one day at a time. There is so much uncertainty in the world right now, and the last thing you want to do is add more pressure to yourself.

It’s important to know that things might not go according to plan, but don’t worry―the DP prepared us to deal with last-minute changes. Our advice is to be open to new possibilities that will come in the next few months because life has a way of working itself out.

To find out more about our project, connect with us on Instagram and Facebook

Keno Beck started the Diploma Programme (DP) in Tanglin Trust School, and he completed it in Heidelberg International School. As an aerospace engineer with a specialisation in additive manufacturing, he developed an in-depth understanding of technology and a curiosity for innovation. Linking this with his understanding of business, he aims to develop and implement innovative technologies to meet the demands of the future with a global perspective and a focus on efficiency.

As long as he can remember, medicine, and in particular neuroscience, has always fascinated Tiago Beck. After completing his Middle Years Programme (MYP) and obtaining his bi-lingual Diploma Programme (DP) diploma in Heidelberg International School, this fascination accompanied the development and experiences in hospitals, neurological practices, research laboratories and in the back of ambulances for the past five years, ultimately leading him to pursue a Research Master of Neuroscience at the Erasmus Medical University in Rotterdam. We are currently battling one of the greatest challenges of our generation, but if his past education has taught him one thing, it is the value of community and working together to persevere, grow, and come out stronger at the end.

To hear more from Diploma Programme (DP) graduates check out these IB programme stories. If you are an IB grad and want to share your story, write to us at We appreciate your support in sharing IB stories and invite you to connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter and now Instagram!

If you enjoyed this story, consider reading more below: