At Gettysburg College, innovation occurs when a student’s academic pursuits and personal passions collide. Just take Tyler Mitchell ’20, a computer science major who is leveraging 3D printing technology on campus to aid those with Type 1 diabetes.
“I’ve lived with diabetes all my life, and realize the limitations it can have on you every single day,” said Mitchell. “My goal is to make the quality of life better—to make life normal—for those living through a similar experience as me.”
Through the College’s Digital Technology Summer Fellows Program, Mitchell invested months of hands-on experimentation to develop a potentially revolutionary medical device—an affordable, closed-loop insulin pump for diabetics.
Created in Gettysburg’s Innovation Lab—a campus space designed for the exploration of bold, technological ideas—the insulin pump operates entirely from reading blood sugars that continuously move through a glucose monitor. With access to the College’s 3D printer, Mitchell manufactured the necessary components for the pump, such as the casing and the gears responsible for administering the insulin.
“The pump can’t be connected to anyone yet, but the way things measure on it demonstrates that it works. It definitely feels good to be one step closer to making a difference,” he said.
While Mitchell takes great pride in his closed-loop design, which controls a complex path of blood sugar data, the technology’s promise lies in its cost savings for patients.
The beauty of 3D printing is that it does not require industrial-sized equipment, which dramatically lowers manufacturing costs on a per-unit basis. Mitchell’s closed-loop insulin pump costs roughly $800 to produce—that’s a staggering $9,200 less than the inflated sticker price of a hybrid closed-loop pump on the market today.
When factoring that 1.25 million Americans currently live with Type 1 diabetes—according to the American Diabetes Association—Mitchell’s groundbreaking work at Gettysburg College could be life-altering for diabetics across the nation and around the world.
“This project would not have been attainable or nearly as successful without access to specific courses at Gettysburg and the support of my mentors,” said Mitchell, citing the guidance of Eric Remy, director of educational technology, and Rod Tosten, vice president of information technology.
“Dr. Remy and Dr. Tosten would always answer my questions without hesitation, especially when it came to the physical components of the project, which I needed help with. I also received help from every professor in the computer science department. They inspired ideas on how to make [the pump] even better, and I’m currently implementing some of those ideas. To this day, they’re still guiding me through this process.”
Recently, Mitchell was recognized through a Facebook post by Charles Riley—a member of the College Diabetes Network—for his advancements in biotechnology for Type 1 diabetes.
To Mitchell, the acknowledgement signified the tremendous progress he’s made—and the unfinished work still before him.
“At Gettysburg College, I was given the freedom to build whatever I wanted through my summer fellowship—and it seems to be paying off,” he said. “My hope is that this project will have a real-world impact on those suffering with diabetes, and that I can truly help those individuals in a meaningful way.”