University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2003 - $16,400
Wheelchair basketball is among the five highest risk sports for the disabled. Injuries resulting from collisions are frequent during wheelchair basketball because the athletes must not only control the ball and the game, but also themselves and their chairs.
The Balance Sport Wheelchair E-Team designed a less cumbersome, more responsive, and safer wheelchair that employs a simple leaning/braking system to help the athlete control herself. The seat of the wheelchair sits atop a centralized column that passes through a universal join mechanism; the column extends down where it's attached to a braking system on the chair's two large wheels. When the player leans left, the chair turns left; when they players leans right, the chair turns right; when the player leans back, the chair stops.
The E-Team consisted of four students: three undergraduates majoring in industrial design, and one member of the University of Illinois wheelchair basketball team.