June 15, 2012

Electromechanical Engineering Student Earns Best Student Paper

Professor Douglas Dow, Robert Deutschmann, Professor Tim Johnson, and Dean Fred Driscoll

Robert Deutschmann, BELM ’13, was recognized with a second place award for the best student paper at the annual American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Northeast Conference for his paper, “Estimating the Time-course of Digestion for Diabetic Patient Education and Programming of Insulin Pump,” co-authored by Professor Douglas Dow. The paper details a customizable software model Deutschmann created, which assists insulin pumps in more effectively doling out doses. 

Insulin pumps provide diabetics with a steady stream of insulin throughout the day in order to keep blood-sugar levels consistent. The pumps determine the size and frequency of the doses on several variables specific to each person, including the content of their meals. While the pumps often account for the glucose levels of food, the fat and protein levels—which slow the absorption of sugars—are not considered.

Deutschmann saw this as a weakness, and developed his software model to correct for the fat and protein factors when projecting digestion—providing diabetics with greater clarity when it comes to their diets. With more precise measurements can also come some pretty adventurous decisions as well. “It lets me eat things my doctor says never eat,” said Deutschmann, who tweaked the software’s settings to project his own digestive habits. “I can eat it without really fretting.” His software’s projections for his own digestive process gave him the confidence to eat foods he might have considered dangerous before.

Deutschmann, who has type I diabetes, has long been interested in healthcare and is searching for his next co-op in the industry. He believes having a positive effect on peoples’ lives is a huge part of engineering. His software model is a perfect example.  “[A] lot of people have diabetes, so if treatments were improved it would influence lives.”

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