UL grad and former U.S. Army Ranger developing technology to slow the spread of COVID-19

Posted at 6:15 PM, Aug 12, 2020

A University of Louisiana at Lafayette graduate and former U.S. Army Ranger is hoping technology he's developing will help slow the spread of COVID-19 not only here, but across the country.

Brock Thibodeaux knows the battle so many people are facing with COVID-19.

He's a survivor and lives outside of Kirkland, Washington, the area believed to be the epicenter of the virus in the United States.

"I got COVID-19 and for about two and a half weeks, I was on the couch," Thibodeaux said. "It was a pretty bad experience. I don't wish that on anyone."

Thibodeaux, a UL grad who went on to study cyber security at Harvard knew once he recovered, he wanted to use his information technology skills to slow the spread of the virus. He's a senior engineer at Microsoft and recently founded a startup.

"We're looking into AI and what's called machine learning. You're basically teaching a computer to think like a brain and look at data and images," Thibodeaux said. "Break it down, remember it and build patterns and algorithms to process data faster."

Thibodeaux's research was donated to the National Institute of Health to work with local hospitals. He donated his research in the name of two friends, Antonio Rodriguez and Casey Beckwith, who have died.

Sergeant 1st. Class Antonio Rodriguez was a fellow Ranger to Thibodeaux. On February 7, 2020, Rodriguez and another soldier were ambushed in Afghanistan by a rogue Afghan policeman, in the Sherzad district of Nangarhar Province, located in eastern Afghanistan. This tragic loss of two American soldiers directly sparked the U.S.-Taliban peace talks; and in only the second time in U.S. history, both the President and Vice President were there to greet the body of SFC Antonio Rodriguez, when his remains were flown back to America. Casey Beckwith was a friend in Atlanta battling an illness most of her life and who died in 2015.The name of the method Brock pioneered is the "RodBeck Method." A combination of both their names.

The goal is to help COVID-19 front line workers detect and treat the disease faster; analyzing and tracking patient data to predict where the virus will be next to stop it before it happens. He says his work also helps medical professionals evaluate chest x-rays quicker so they know if someone is COVID-positive.

"With our process that we've created with my tools, it takes 5 seconds. It's incredible and it felt great to me and it felt great to see them have more confidence in the ability to help more people in one day," Thibodeaux said.

Now, Thibodeaux is traveling back-and-forth to Lafayette from Washington State in hopes of working with hospitals and government here to slow the spread of COVID-19.
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