About the Contest

Contest History

The Create the Future Design Contest was launched in 2002 by the publishers of Tech Briefs magazine to help stimulate and reward engineering innovation. The annual event has attracted more than 14,000 product design ideas from engineers, entrepreneurs, and students worldwide. The contest's principal sponsors are COMSOL and Mouser Electronics with Analog Devices and Intel as supporting sponsors.

Category sponsors include Heilind/TE Connectivity, Maplesoft, Siemens PLM Software, and Zeus.

The contest is produced by Tech Briefs Media Group.


Primary Sponsors

COMSOL is a global provider of simulation software for product design and research to technical enterprises, research labs, and universities. Its COMSOL Multiphysics® product is an integrated software environment for creating physics-based models and simulation applications. A particular strength is its ability to account for coupled or multiphysics phenomena. Add-on products expand the simulation platform for electromagnetics, structural, acoustics, fluid flow, heat transfer, and chemical applications. Interfacing tools enable the integration of COMSOL Multiphysics® simulations with all major technical computing and CAD tools on the CAE market. Simulation experts rely on COMSOL Compiler™ and COMSOL Server™ to deploy applications to their design teams, manufacturing departments, test laboratories, and customers throughout the world.

Mouser Electronics, a Berkshire Hathaway company, is an award-winning, authorized semiconductor and electronic component distributor focused on rapid New Product Introductions from its manufacturing partners for electronic design engineers and buyers. The global distributor's website, Mouser.com, is available in multiple languages and currencies and features more than 5 million products from over 800 manufacturers. Mouser offers 27 support locations around the world to provide best-in-class customer service and ships globally to over 630,000 customers in more than 223 countries/territories from its 750,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility south of Dallas, Texas. For more information, visit www.mouser.com.


Supporting Sponsors

Analog Devices is a leading global high-performance analog technology company dedicated to solving the toughest engineering challenges. We enable our customers to interpret the world around us by intelligently bridging the physical and digital with unmatched technologies that sense, measure, power, connect and interpret.
Visit http://www.analog.com.

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), a leader in the semiconductor industry, is shaping the data-centric future with computing and communications technology that is the foundation of the world’s innovations. The company’s engineering expertise is helping address the world’s greatest challenges as well as helping secure, power and connect billions of devices and the infrastructure of the smart, connected world – from the cloud to the network to the edge and everything in between. Find more information about Intel at newsroom.intel.com and intel.com.

Organized in 1974 and formally chartered by the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986, the FLC is a nationwide network of approximately 300 federal laboratories, centers, parent departments, and agencies that establishes strategies and opportunities for linking laboratory mission technologies and expertise with the marketplace. To accomplish its mission of assisting the movement of innovative federal research and development into the U.S. economy, the FLC provides various resources from training to regional and national meetings so its members can obtain the resources they need to achieve successful technology transfer. To learn more about the FLC and its mission, visit www.federallabs.org.


Category Sponsors


Siemens PLM provides an industry-unique portfolio of automotive design tools and software. Our solutions enable functionality in applications such as connected cars and smart cities, automated driving, electric powertrain, factory and fleet management, and more. We work with players throughout the transportation ecosystem, including car companies and suppliers, software and tech companies in the Silicon Valley, automated vehicle startups, public transportation agencies, and government decision-makers. Siemens PLM – chip to city for new mobility. 




Heilind Electronics, Inc., authorized distributor of TE Connectivity’s entire portfolio, is one of the world's leading distributors of connectors, relays, sensors, switches, thermal management and circuit protection products, terminal blocks, wire and cable, wiring accessories and insulation and identification products. Founded in 1974, Heilind has locations throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong and China.

TE Connectivity Ltd. is a $14 billion global technology and manufacturing leader creating a safer, sustainable, productive and connected future. For more than 75 years, TE’s connectivity and sensor solutions, proven in the harshest environments, have enabled advancements in transportation, industrial applications, medical technology, energy, data communications and the home. With 80,000 employees, including more than 8,000 engineers, working alongside customers in approximately 140 countries, TE ensures that EVERY CONNECTION COUNTS.



Zeus Industrial Products, Inc., is headquartered in Orangeburg, SC, USA. Its core business is the development and precision extrusion of advanced polymeric materials. The company employs over 1,500 people worldwide with facilities in Aiken, Gaston, and Orangeburg, South Carolina; Branchburg, New Jersey; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Guangzhou China; and Letterkenny, Ireland. Zeus products and services serve companies in the medical, automotive, aerospace, fiber optics, energy, and fluid management markets. For more information, visit www.zeusinc.com.


Robotics/Automation/Manufacturing Category

Maplesoft is the leading provider of high-performance software tools for engineering, science, and mathematics. Maplesoft Engineering Solutions provide advanced tools and services for system simulation, calculation management, and systems engineering, helping organizations maximize the power of their engineering knowledge so they can complete their projects quickly and successfully. The Maplesoft product suite includes Maple™, for technical computing and calculation management, MapleSim™, the advanced system-level modeling and simulation tool, and MapleMBSE, which supports a model based systems engineering approach to requirements management. Maplesoft products and services are used in machine design, robotics, aerospace, automotive, industrial automation, and many other fields where engineers face complex challenges. Key applications include the creation of digital twins, dynamic analysis of mechanisms, battery systems modeling, heat transfer modeling, and bus fleet electrification. Customers include Boeing, FLSmidth, Ford, Google, Intel, NASA, and Samsung.

Maplesoft is a subsidiary of Cybernet Systems Group. To learn more about Maplesoft, please visit www.maplesoft.com.


Prize Sponsors



Contest Producer

Tech Briefs Media Group

Tech Briefs Media Group, an SAE International Company, is the publisher of Tech Briefs, the largest-circulation design-engineering magazine worldwide and Aerospace & Defense Technology, the largest-circulation engineering magazine for the mil/aero market. The Tech Briefs Media Group product line has grown to include print/digital advertising, email/web products, virtual events, seminars & conferences, custom media and content related advertising. Additional publications include Automotive Engineering, Autonomous Vehicle Engineering, Off-Highway Engineering, Medical Design Briefs, Photonics & Imaging Technology, Motion Design, and Sensor Technology. Combined, these products reach over 1 million engineers and managers worldwide.



Previous Winners


Invisible Glass
Charles T. Black, Center for Functional Nanomaterials, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY, USA; Andreas C. Liapis, Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge MA, USA; Atikur Rahman, Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune, Maharashtra, India
A nanotechnology coating from Brookhaven National Laboratory imparts anti-reflection and water-repellency capabilities to surfaces made of silicon, glass, and plastics like Teflon.

HI-LIGHT - Solar Thermal Chemical Reactor Technology for Converting CO2 to Hydrocarbons
Xiangkun (Elvis) Cao, Jessica Akemi Cimada da Silva, David Erickson, and Tobias Hanrath, Cornell University; Jason Salfi and Clayton Poppe, Dimensional Energy, Ithaca, NY, USA
The HI-Light reactor being developed at Cornell University is a solar-thermocatalytic “reverse combustion” technology that enables the conversion of CO2 and water to methanol and other high-value hydrocarbons. The innovative claim of the HI-Light reactor design derives from the concurrent optimization of light-coupling and catalyst availability.

Hyliion - Hybrid Technology for Semi-Trailers and the Trucking Industry
Thomas Healy, RF Culbertson, AJ Emanuele, Morgan Culbertson, Wilson Sa, Pam Culbertson, Chad Saylor, Len Kulbacki, Eric Weber, Adam Faris, Kim Kasee, Roger Richter, Jared King, Phil Aufdencamp, and Tim Gehring, Hyliion, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
We (Hyliion) - hybridize the trailer portion of the tractor-trailer combination – saving over 30% on fuel. Our system uses regenerative braking to capture power when the trailer is slowing down or going down hill, and reuses that power to help the truck-trailer up hills. Our system installs in 23 minutes.

Development Of A Non-surgical Circulatory Support Device For The Treatment Of Chronic Heart Failure
Omar Benavides, Benjamin Hertzog, Jace Heuring, Reynolds Delgado, and Will Clifton
Aortix™ augments heart function by accelerating a portion of native blood flow within the pump and pushing it downstream to entrain aortic flow. Strategic placement downstream of the heart allows for combined benefit to the heart, kidneys, and other vital organs while eliminating the common VAD risks of damage to the heart and thrombotic stroke.

Robotic Building Construction By Contour Crafting
Behrokh Khoshnevis
Contour Crafting (CC) is a computerized construction method that 3D prints large-scale structures directly from architectural CAD models. Walls are built up by forming their outer surfaces via extrusion of a paste-like material such as concrete, and the use of a robotic trowel to provide a smooth, contoured surface. CC is a very flexible technique, capable of constructing aesthetically pleasing “organic” curvilinear shapes as easily as “boxy” rectilinear shapes; as such, it has attracted strong interest from leading architects.

Nikhil Mehandru, Aaron Perez, Brandon Sim; Loudonville, New York
Four Harvard University students of various disciplines have founded Theratech and have introduced the ChemoPatchTM, a low-cost, disposable, and electronic patch-based cancer chemotherapy device designed to be simple, automated, and easy-to-use by cancer patients outside of the hospital, yet cutting-edge in it's ability to deliver quality early-stage chemotherapy.

Sensordrone: a Practical, Tricorder Like Platform for Consumers and Mobile Device Developers
Mark Wagner, Sensorcon, Buffalo, NY
Sensordrone is a multi-purpose, configurable sensor that dramatically extends the sensing capability of smartphones & tablets. It is a key Fob sized platform for both consumers and developers.

?Screen Fast and Cheap Bacteria Detection
Monika Weber, New Haven, CT
?Screen is the needed MEMS rapid pathogen screener for food-borne illnesses. It has a potential to improve health standards at the consumer level by increasing sensitivity, keeping the cost down and testing time short.

Rowheel Wheelchair Propulsion System
Salim Nasser, Merritt Island, FL
The Rowheel offers a fundamental difference in the approach to manual wheelchair propulsion in that it operates by means of a pulling/rowing motion as opposed to pushing.

LifeBelt® CPR
Thomas Lach, Deca-Medics, Columbus, OH
Device makes it easy and safe for anyone to perform high-quality CPR compressions for extended periods of time.

Litroenergy™, a New Light Source Material

Steve Stark, MPK Co., Champlin, MN
Can emit light continuously for more than 12 years without exposure to sunlight or other energy sources.

Integrated Motor/Pump

David A. Torrey, Advanced Energy Conversion LLC, Malta, NY
Fluid pump design reduces parasitic losses in trucks/other vehicles, improves thermal performance of the electric motor through direct liquid cooling of the windings, and shrinks size by combining the motor and pump in a single housing.

Low-Cost In-Vehicle Emergency Warning Device

Patrick Scholes, CPS Systems, Germantown, TN
A simple emergency beacon detector circuit interrupts a car’s audio system’s power when an emergency vehicle approaches, emitting a brief alarm signal to alert drivers and prevent collisions.

Unitary Orthopedic Appliance

Leonard Duffy, Chittenden Research and Development, Hinesburg, VT
A unique interlocking fastener design with advantages over hook-and-loop systems enables orthopedic devices that can be easily removed, cleaned, and reused.

OsteoSonic™ Noninvasive Bone and Joint Damage Detection Device

Michael Liebschner, Rice University, Houston, TX
This portable, battery-operated unit that fits in the palm of the hand can detect bony fractures and soft tissue damage, operating without radiation.

Rotary Pinion Face Gear Set

Fred Vreeman, Orlando, FL
Low-friction gear set operates with high efficiency over the entire range of power transmission capability.