2024 Contest Coming Soon!

Get your neurons fired up – the 2024 Create the Future Design Contest will open for entries on March 1. Submit your best new product ideas for a chance at $25,000 and other great prizes.

In the meantime, get up to speed on last year’s winners, honorable mentions, and most popular entries here.

Help build a better tomorrow

Since Tech Briefs magazine launched the Create the Future Design contest in 2002 to recognize and reward engineering innovation, over 15,000 design ideas have been submitted by engineers, students, and entrepreneurs across six continents. You can also join the innovators who dared to dream big and build a better tomorrow by entering this year’s contest.

Read About Past Winners’ Success Stories

Over the past 20 years, many innovators have used the recognition afforded by the contest to advance the development and marketing of their technologies. We highlight some success stories of past winners who have brought their inventions to the marketplace.

Click here to read more

A ‘Create the Future’ Winner Featured on ‘Here’s an Idea’

Spinal cord injury affects 17,000 Americans and 700,000 people worldwide each year. A research team at NeuroPair, Inc. won the Grand Prize in the 2023 Create the Future Design Contest for a revolutionary approach to spinal cord repair. In this Here’s an Idea podcast episode, Dr. Johannes Dapprich, NeuroPair’s CEO and founder, discusses their groundbreaking approach that addresses a critical need in the medical field, offering a fast and minimally invasive solution to a long-standing problem.

Listen now

Thank you from our Sponsors

“At COMSOL, we are very excited to recognize innovators and their important work this year. We are grateful for the opportunity to support the Create the Future Design Contest, which is an excellent platform for designers to showcase their ideas and products in front of a worldwide audience. Best of luck to all participants!”

— Bernt Nilsson, Senior Vice President of Marketing, COMSOL, Inc.

“From our beginnings, Mouser has supported engineers, innovators and students. We are proud of our longstanding support for the Create the Future Design Contest and the many innovations it has inspired.”

— Kevin Hess, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Mouser Electronics

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Rowheel Wheelchair Propulsion System

Votes: 14
Views: 46449

There are approximately 1.8 million manual wheelchair users in the United States and the population is expected to grow at a rate of 10% annually. Seventy five percent of wheelchair users rely on manual wheelchairs. Prolonged manual wheelchair use is directly linked to repetitive stress injuries and pain in the upper extremity. The effects of muscle overuse becoming evident in the forms of muscle pain, torn rotor cuffs, joint degeneration, and carpal tunnel syndrome. There is a need to minimize these types of injuries while retaining the benefits of the exercise that these devices provide. Studies have found continued prevalence and pain intensity, over time, resulted in a change in lifestyle where user ceased to routinely perform these activities. 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. Biomechanically, it offers a direct and more efficient solution to the problems of shoulder, elbow, wrist injuries, user fatigue and maneuverability, since the pulling motion transfers loads and stresses usually experienced by smaller and weaker muscles in the shoulder and arms to larger and more capable muscles in the upper back, shoulders, and arms, therefore, considerably reducing stresses and injuries experienced by the shoulders, triceps, and wrists.
The Rowheel has similar specifications and appearance to those of existing manual wheelchair wheels. The ability of the Rowheel to mount onto any standard manual wheelchair was of paramount importance and therefore, care was taken in incorporating standard, universal parts where necessary. The key feature of the Rowheel design involves adapting a planetary gear system at the center of the wheel, which reverses the pulling motion of the user into a forward motion of the chair. The unique change from pushing to pulling along with the mechanical advantage created by the use of the gear system will provide an overall increase in user endurance and range.
To operate a wheelchair with Rowheels, the user pulls a standard rim which is connected to the sun gear of the planetary system. This transfers the motion from the user to the wheelchair. The sun gear engages the planet gears (the planet carrier motion is fixed to the chair frame), which in turn engage a ring gear that is fixed to the hub which is fixed to the wheel through spokes. Large bore, small cross-section bearings fixed on to the inner and outer hub plates, allow relative motion between these plates and the inner and outer hub casings to occur. The Rowheel does not require modification of existing wheelchair frames and is easily removed or docked through a universal locking axel allowing the user to quickly disassemble the wheelchair for portability.
A working prototype has been built with relatively simple manufacturing involved. Tires, rims, spokes, and bearing where purchased from third-parties while the gears and hubs were cut in-house. A commercial version would use an all-in-one carbon fiber outer hub/spoke/wheel rim for decreased weight, ease-of- assembly and visual appeal.

  • Awards

  • 2010 Grand Prize Winner


Voting is closed!


  • Name:
    Salim Nasser
  • Type of entry:
  • Profession:
  • Number of times previously entering contest:
  • Salim's favorite design and analysis tools:
    ProE, NX6, Solidworks
  • For managing CAD data Salim's company uses:
    PTC Windchill
  • Salim's hobbies and activities:
    Art, Graphic Design
  • Salim is inspired by:
    Personal experience since I am in a wheelchair myself. I wanted to make manual wheelchair propulsion more efficient while reducing stresses to shoulder and arm muscles.
  • Hardware used for this entry:
    Milling Mach., Lathe, CNC
    Software used for this entry:
    Pro/E, Solidworks, Femap
  • Patent status: