An idea that grew out of a frightening health episode that Chris Manning’s young son experienced in 2016 earned Chris a top honor at the 21st Annual Disability:IN conference held this past summer in Las Vegas, Nev. Now, he’s in discussions with a major company to market the invention he presented during the Talent Accelerator competition geared toward integrating technology into the lives of people with disabilities, part of the conference he attended through the College’s Workforce Recruitment Program.
In December 2016, Chris’s son Tyler, a Type 1 diabetic who was 8 years old at the time, had his blood sugar dip dangerously low and he became disoriented, unable to recognize his father and those around him. Chris called paramedics for medical assistance, but he began to wonder what would happen if this occurred when his son was older, alone, and unable to call for help.
So Chris began working on a prototype of a remote glucose monitoring system that would respond if the blood sugar of the individual using the pump goes below 70 or above 300. A signal would be sent to a monitoring station that would then send another signal prompting the user to initiate the pump. If he or she doesn’t respond within five minutes, it would contact paramedics and supply the location of the user via the embedded GPS. “The idea really was to try to save as many people as possible,” Chris explained. “To not have people die for the simple reason that they were alone, and their blood sugar went too low causing them to go into a diabetic coma.”
His son tried the prototype and Chris filed for a couple of product patents including utility and design while balancing studying Computer Networking Systems and Cyber Security and Computer Repair and Networking, working in the College’s IT department, being a father of three young children, and participating in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). He is also in the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP). The Talent Accelerator competition that he learned about through Dawn Jones in the Career Services Office presented him with the opportunity to showcase his idea at the conference, which annually brings together individuals and employers from across the country to further disability inclusion.
“The main purpose was to go for the Innovation Lab, part of the Talent Accelerator at the conference and get in front of all of these companies,” Chris explained. “It was a way to catapult my idea and it paid off.” He teamed up with nine other students and recent graduates from across the country to present his invention to executives from Fortune 500 companies including Boston Scientific, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc., and Walmart. Only two teams, from an original group of eight, were selected to make final presentations to the corporate executives.
Chris and his team members earned cash prizes and he is now in discussions to make the prototype come to life. He’ll be hired as an independent contractor to consult on production. He is also starting a consulting firm as he develops other ideas for ways to make life better for those with disabilities.
His interest comes not only from wanting to help others, but from his own experiences as someone requiring accommodations following an accident while working as a landscaper and a car accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury. This required that a spinal cord stimulator be placed in his lower back and neck, along with a neck fusion, years of physical therapy, and multiple injections to help with daily motion.
He plans to graduate from the College in December, work in the computer science field, and develop products to assist those with disabilities. “This wasn’t designed for a profit,” Chris said. “It was designed to make an impact."