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Best Inventor 

Ralf Hotchkiss

Ralf Hotchkiss is an engineering professor at SF State and the founder of Whirlwind Wheelchairs International, an organization that has been designing wheelchairs for use and manufacture in developing countries for more than 35 years. They are made to be durable and cheap for people in urban and rural settings alike. The organization's mission is to make it possible for every person in the developing world who needs a wheelchair to obtain one, thus leading to maximum personal independence and integration into society. Hotchkiss is a paraplegic and has been in a wheelchair since a motorcycle accident in Ohio at 18. He got the idea for these alternative wheelchairs when his own wheelchair tipped over due to a faulty wheel and poor overall design. His designs come from objects he saw during his travels, such as shopping carts in Zimbabwe and chairs in Vietnam. Tens of thousands of wheelchairs are distributed every year in various local shops in 42 different countries, thus supporting regional economies as well.

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)


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