Caitlin Van Ermen
RCPD Director Michael Hudson notes, “As part of my role on the Michigan Commission for the Blind, I had a chance to visit and hear from staff and clients of the BSBP Training Center. Director of the Training Center, Lisa Kisiel, remarked about the struggles experienced by people who lost eyesight due to diabetes. The insulin pump many diabetics value as an optimal treatment tool is unusable to those who cannot read the screen, I knew MSU engineers would find this a challenge worth adopting. If we can affect the lives of so many people who have lost eyesight from diabetes, MSU will again evidence the power of higher education to solve societies toughest challenges.”
In the United States, a large percentage of diabetics have decreased vision due to diabetic retinopathy. Every year, RCPD secures funding and challenges engineering students to create feasible universal solutions and showcase them at the renowned Engineering Design Day.
The design team from ECE480 pushed the boundaries and created a solution for a roadblock facing many individuals with diabetes. This year’s capstone project created an auditory add-on component for the use of Asante insulin pumps. This new design promises to help people with visual impairments due to diabetes who do not have independent access to today’s state-of-the-art medical technology. A leading manufacturer of insulin pumps, Asante and global company, Marathon helped sponsor this innovation. This device verbally announces functions necessary to control and make use of the device.
Caitlin Ramsey, Michael Greene, Stephen Blosser, August Garrett demonstrate their talking insulin pump
Assistive Technology specialist, Stephen Blosser comments:
“I am delighted to be a part of the College of Engineering / RCPD collaborative. We plan to continue projects like these that impact the world and improve the lives of people. It is my hope that insulin pump manufacturers will see this milestone and hustle to be the first to market it. This project has changed the reality of what is "accessible" DME (Durable Medical Equipment). Individuals who experience vision loss and diabetes can now request accessible devices because this project proves that it is feasible and possible to build it. Federal legislation requires that devices purchased by federal agencies be accessible by people with disabilities. Medicare and other federal funds purchase DME devices, including insulin pumps. The soon availability of an accessible option will reward those companies that act first.”
Engineering Students that created the assistive insulin pump won $1,000 award for “Best Poster Presentation”
The goal of RCPD sponsored projects is to extend ability and opportunity around the world. These designs assist the youth in preparation of higher education. The RCPD initiates designs that become an available resource for other schools and universities to use, emulate, and build upon.
Beyond the spotlight of diabetes; engineering teams took on other societal challenges
Among the showcased innovations, there were a total of 20 groups sponsored by the RCPD in the fall of 2014. Assistive Technology Specialist Stephen Blosser, spearheaded these projects. Six teams approached an adaptive sports challenge for assistive devices for hand pedal bicycles. Other teams developed accessible electronic teaching tools to help young people learn the basics of electronics. Other groups developed a drone medicine delivery system for remote jungle locations. Unmanned Systems created MINE sweeping robots to avoid disability evoking hazards associated with land mines in war torn areas of the globe, along with automated techniques for guided wheelchairs.
Left: MSU Unmanned Systems displays their assistive technology. Right: MSU EGR100 students with their devices to teach electronics to the blind.
RCPD’s Global Impact:
Stephen Blosser shares the innovative engineering projects with the rest of the world. In past years, Stephen took the projects to several schools in Andrea Pradesh, India; including a school for the blind in Bobbili, and the Kollegal School for the deaf.
In true RCPD spirit, innovative engineering projects, reach for full participation of persons with disabilities, trying to get an education, participate in life, become self-sufficient, and tackle challenges.