Twelve “techmanitarians,” whose idea of cool technology has nothing to do with the iPhone, will be honored at the annual Tech Awards in November.
These tech tinkerers aren’t working to create the latest gee-whiz gadget. Instead, they are striving to make the world a better place by helping the many who have so little, such as Peruvians in need of access to running water or the world’s poorest billions who are illiterate and lacking basic health and agricultural knowledge.
“We are inspired by the laureates’ desire to improve the world through the creative use of technology and their perseverance to this end,” Tim Ritchie, president of San Jose’s The Tech Museum, said in a statement. “Their lives and work serve as a challenge to us: Do we desire to make our work count for others, and are we willing to use our considerable assets to build a better world?”
The awards ceremony, which spotlights the work of social entrepreneurs who use low-cost technology to change lives around the world, will be held Nov. 15, 2012 at the Santa Clara Convention Center and will be presented by Applied Materials in association with the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University. Two cash prizes of $75,000 and $25,000 will be awarded in in each of six of The Tech Awards categories: Intel Environment Award; Microsoft Education Award; The Swanson Foundation Young Innovator Award; Nokia Health Award; Flextronics Economic Development Award, and The Sustainable Energy Award.
Since the inception of the museum’s signature program in 2001, 257 laureates have been recognized. Their pioneering work has included designing earthquake-resistant construction technology to creating a heat-sensitive label for vaccine vials to make sure children receive potent immunizations to building a simple, low-cost, mobile phone-based device that allows remote monitoring and operation of irrigation pumps.
“In many ways, the Tech Awards embody the spirit of Silicon Valley and the belief that technology can improve people’s lives and make the world a better place,” Mike Splinter, Chairman and CEO of Applied Materials, said in a statement.
Previous humanitarian winners include former Vice President Al Gore; Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates; Intel co-founder Gordon Moore; Jordan’s Queen Rania; Muhammad Yunus, pioneer of micro credit and founder of the Grameen Bank ; and Jeff Skoll, eBay’s first president who now heads up his own film company, Participant Media.
“In a developing society like India, which is embracing capitalism and free markets only recently, it is very important for the evangelists of capitalism like me to embrace philanthropy so that the common man has confidence in us,” Murthy said in an interview earlier this year.
The 2012 Tech Awards Laureates include Arup K. SenGupta, who has created simple-to-use technology to protect people from arsenic poisoning in contaminated groundwater in Cambodia, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Vietnam; TeachAIDS, which created effective HIV education software at Stanford University and Eco-Fuel Africa, whose technology allows people to convert farm and city waste into clean cooking fuel and organic fertilizers.
The Tech Museum provides a complete list of this year’s laureates here.