SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Two Syracuse University students may be on the verge of a groundbreaking invention for people living with diabetes.
According to the Center of Disease Control, more than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 1 in 4 of them don’t know they have it.
More than 84 million US adults have prediabetes, and 90 percent of them don’t know they have it, according to the CDC.
Russell Fearon, a senior Mechanical Engineering student at SU, found out he was diabetic two years ago.
The first time he met Ricardo Sanchez, a fourth year Industrial and Interactive Design major at SU, was over the summer. The two were partnered up for the summer program Invent@SU.
It’s designed to transform undergraduate students into inventors as they design, prototype and pitch original devices. The immersive invention accelerators are held at the Fisher Center in New York City and on the SU campus.
The program is open to all SU undergraduate students.
Fearon and Sanchez were struggling to come up with ideas for Invent@SU when Fearon excused himself to check his blood sugar.
“The lightbulb clicked on, it was just wow, this is the issue and what can we do to solve it,” Fearon tells NewsChannel 9.
“What I’ve been learning throughout these past few years in the school of design is that you want to design for a problem, as opposed to designing a product and then finding a problem,” said Sanchez.
The team came up with a smart watch looking device that incorporates the lancer for pricking the finger, glucometer, test strips that go in it, and lancets that Russell used to carry separately in a small pouch.
Fearon and Sanchez developed a prototype over the six-week Invent@SU program and pitched each week to guest evaluators and judges. Even though they did not win, they knew they wanted to keep moving forward.
Fearon presented at another competition on Martha’s Vineyard just days after Invent@SU and then applied to the American Heart Association’s EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator Competition.
Fearon was named one of nine finalists for the American Heart Association competition on October 25. When they were announced as the winner of the $5000 fan favorite award, Fearon and Sanchez were thrilled. Moments later it was time to announce the first place, $50,000 winner. Fearon heard his name called again.
“At first it was like, that’s a lot of money, but now it’s also that validation and recognition that we are making an impact,” he says.
“I didn’t expect this to go so far but here we are,” said Sanchez.
The two now plan to build their startup and begin working on how to get a fully functioning prototype off the ground.