Armando Silva has spent about 10 years and $20,000 trying to get his invention perfected and on the market.
The El Pasoan was about to give up on his patented, pneumatic system for raising and lowering a wheelchair when he finally got the break he hopes gets his invention off the ground.
He won Innovate El Paso's first Hottest Inventor Challenge.
He calls his invention the Low-High Wheelchair. It can be lowered to 11 inches, which can help get the chair through a van door without the person in the chair hitting his or her head, he said. And it can be raised up to 32 inches, which he noted, is bar-stool height.
"I'm surprised I won it (challenge). Everything was going wrong since I started" with the invention, said Silva, 51. "Now, we have an NMSU engineer working on a prototype."
Eli Velasquez, executive director of Innovate El Paso, which helps inventors and startups, said Silva's invention is a relatively low-cost way to lower and raise a wheelchair. It'd be less expensive than buying an electric wheelchair, he said.