Inspiration on tap at the Tech Museum Tech Awards Gala - Small Times
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Inspiration on tap at the Tech Museum Tech Awards Gala

(November 10, 2010) -- The Tech Awards, presented by Applied Materials (AMAT), is the Tech Museum’s annual tribute to a select group of people working around the world to help those in need. Environment, economic development, education, equality, and health efforts are recognized. The Tech Awards attracted 1,011 nominations with laureate projects for this year’s event representing work done in 54 countries -- up from 44 last year. The Tech Awards laureates 2010 represent regions as diverse as Brazil, India, United Kingdom, Philippines and the United States.

To recap the laureates singled out to receive the various sponsored awards: The Katherine M. Swanson Equality Award went to A Single Drop for Clean Water. The Intel Environment Award went to Peer Water Exchange. The B. D. Biosciences Award went to Alexis T. Belonio. The Microsoft Education Award went to BBC World Service Trust/BBC Janala Bangladesh. And the Nokia Health Award when to Micronutrient Initiative.

The Tech Awards laureates 2010 were recognized for creating new technological solutions or innovative ways to use existing technologies to significantly improve the lives of people in nearly every corner of the world. Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, was this year's James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award recipient, which was presented by Mike Splinter, chairman & CEO of Applied Materials. Her Majesty Queen Rania is known for her work to focus global attention on education, equality, and empowerment of girls and women, as well as health and economic development issues. Among the Queen’s many accomplishments is establishing Jordan’s first interactive children’s museum and launching 1GOAL -- a campaign to promote global education. Her Majesty’s non-governmental organization, the Jordan River Foundation, brings resources and energy to citizens in need.

After receiving the Global Humanitarian Award, Her Majesty Queen Rania appealed to the creative minds in Silicon Valley, saying that, to solve the world’s problems, “We need technology ideas from you.” Her Majesty’s most impassioned statements addressed the educational needs of children the world over. “Education is a human right for every child, and a tool for climbing out of poverty, a defense against disease, a loudspeaker for the voiceless. Classrooms should be synonymous with creativity -- it not only improves lives, it saves lives...CQ [creativity quotient] trumps IQ.” To continue her work, the Her Majesty told gala attendees that early next year, she will launch a new foundation.

Interviews with laureates
ElectroIQ senior technical editor Debra Vogler spoke with several of the Tech Award laureates.

Working in conjunction with PATH, PharmaJet developed a needle-free, single-use jet injection system. Sixteen billion needle injections are used every year, costing $5-6 billion. Additionally, an estimated $2 billion is spent annually for follow-up care for health-care workers who become infected from contact with contaminated needles. PharmaJet founder Kathleen Callender explains how the design allows every drop of expensive drugs and vaccines to be used, reducing the amount of vaccine needed, in some cases up to 80%. Jet injectors use air pressure rather than a needle to deliver pharmaceuticals intramuscularly or subcutaneously. Syringes can be filled in the field using a simple universal adapter. Because it is a single-use and auto-disable injector, cross-contamination and needle-stick injuries are eliminated. Callender discusses the details of the single-use jet injection system and describes Homeland Security’s use of the system in evaluating flu pandemic response.

Listen to PharmaJet's Kathleen Callender: Download or Play Now

ToughStuff has developed a modular set of solar power products that combines product design with innovations in distribution, helping to lift people out of poverty and improve lives. In the developing world, 1.5 billion people lack electricity. Instead, they use smoky kerosene-burning lamps and candles for lighting, consume huge numbers of polluting dry-cell batteries for their radios, and spend significant time and money charging mobile phones. Adriaan Mol, Operations Director at ToughStuff, quantifies the cost savings per day that can be realized using the company’s products. Using a lightweight, robust, portable, photovoltaic (PV) solar system designed for personal use, ToughStuff’s affordable product set includes a lamp, radio connectors, and a mobile-phone charger. In eight months of operation, more than 200,000 units have been sold, providing solar power for the first time to people who still rely on polluting, archaic technology.

Listen to ToughStuff's Adriaan Mol: Download or Play Now

Peer Water Exchange (PWX), a project of Blue Planet Network, is a global online network that has created a clearinghouse to share water solutions and approaches, connecting project implementers, funders and third-party observers in an open peer-review process. According to the organization, successful solutions to unsafe water problems incorporate community organization, appropriate technology, hygiene, sanitation, transfer of ownership, change in behavior, and long-term maintenance. To date, more than 60 agencies around the world have used Peer Water Exchange to peer review, receive funding, and implement small-scale water and sanitation projects, impacting more than 300,000 people in local communities. Founder and chairman of Blue Planet Network Jin Zidell describes how the organization brings donors and recipients together. A special athletic event, designed to draw attention to the project, is Blue Planet Run: 20 runners, each taking turns, circumnavigated the globe to log 15,200 miles.

Listen to Peer Water Exchange's Jin Zidell: Download or Play Now

Alexis T. Belonio, project director at the Center for Rice Husk Energy Technology, has developed a cooking stove and continuous-flow industrial burner, both of which use a finely tuned gasification process to produce a clean-burning fuel that is almost indistinguishable in appearance and emissions from liquid propane. The impetus for the project is that huge piles of inedible rice husks are often found rotting beside roads or smoldering in fields, producing smoke emission in rural household and industries. This adds up to about 2 million metric tons of potential energy going to waste each year.

Listen to Center for Rice Husk Energy Technology's Alexis T. Belonio: Download or Play Now

Husk Power Systems has developed a gasification technology that filters the released gas from rice husks to power generators that make electricity. Hundreds of millions of people in the Indian countryside remain off the grid; however, rice husks, a waste product of rice milling, are plentiful in the villages and traditionally have been removed and discarded before rice is transported. Husk Power Systems designs, operates and installs 35- to 100-kW mini-power plants that convert rice husks into electricity. More than 50,000 rural Indians are now receiving power in a financially sustainable, scalable, environmentally friendly, and profitable manner. Co-founder and COO Ratnesh Yadav describes the obstacles that had to be overcome as the company implements its technology.

Listen to Husk Power Systems' Ratnesh Yadav: Download or Play Now

International Development Enterprises India (IDEI) manufactures and distributes a variety of foot-operated, water-lifting devices that can irrigate small plots of land in regions that have high water tables. Much of India experiences extreme variation in rainfall, with heavy rains during the monsoon season and drought-like conditions during other months. Farmers cannot afford expensive conventional irrigation technologies and are restricted to rain-fed farming, resulting in poor food and income security. Costing between $12 and $40, IDEI’s Treadle Pump is simple in design and easily manageable. The pump has enabled more than 800,000 farmers to shift from rain-dependent cultivation to year-round cultivation of high-value crops. Their additional net annual income, averaging $400, is then spent on housing and education. COO Suresh Subramanian, notes that the organization has helped over a million farmers in India to date.

Listen to International Development Enterprises India's Suresh Subramanian: Download or Play Now

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