University police help test the panels at a local shooting range.

Kurt Tuescher (left), an officer with the university police, helps test the panels designed by UW-Platteville junior Henry Nicklas.

PLATTEVILLE, Wis.­­­ — Henry Nicklas, a junior industrial technology management major at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, has designed a bulletproof panel to be put in the back slot of a backpack.

Originally from Kenosha, Wis., Nicklas started the project for a class called Composites and Synthetic Materials with Dr. Majid Tabrizi, a professor of plastics and laser technologies in the industrial studies department. “With all that is happening in our country, it’s very helpful to enlighten other ideas to create a safe environment in schools rather than bringing a gun to school,” said Tabrizi.

Nicklas says there are bulletproof panels that already exist for backpacks, but can be expensive, starting at roughly $100. “I’m looking to make it more affordable,” he said. “With the growing fear of school shootings, I felt that I needed to help. I wanted to develop a thin, lightweight and affordable protection against these attacks.”

The bulletproof panel would be large enough to cover a person’s back, and would fit in the slot of a backpack where a laptop would normally go.

A close-up of the bulletproof backpack insert

A close-up of the bulletproof backpack insert.

With the help of the University Police at UW-Platteville, Nicklas was able to test the panels at the local shooting range. “At first I was nervous because this was the first test,” said Nicklas. “I was very excited when a certain material worked really well and when we were able to recover the bullets within them. When one worked, we all had smiles on our faces and were ready to keep going.”

Nicklas hopes to have the final prototypes of full-size panels by the end of the summer, as well as finish getting a patent for the panels. “I would like to thank Dr. Tabrizi for pushing me to go further with the project, the University Police for helping me test my first few prototypes, my parents for purchasing the materials I used to make the Kevlar panels and my friends for supporting me.”

Written by: Carly Willman