Presented yearly by Applied Materials Inc., The Tech Awards honor people who use technology to find innovative solutions to humanity’s greatest challenges. More than 250 laureates have been presented with Tech Awards over the last 13 years. Past recipients of the event’s most prestigious award, the James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award, include former eBay President Jeff Skoll, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, former Vice President and Nobel laureate Al Gore, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Applied Materials’ James C. Morgan himself.
Roqua Montez, director of Public Relations for The Tech Awards, says that those who are honored at this event (individuals, non-profit organizations and for-profit companies) represent multiple nations and have impacted people across the world.
“Many of the laureates work in incredibly poor regions as they attempt to solve a particularly entrenched problem, say lack of potable water, medicinal needs or illiteracy. Their challenges are indeed specific to the problems they are working selflessly to do away with,” said Montez.
For their commitment to applying technology to philanthropy, the laureates are given a week filled with unique Silicon Valley business experiences and training, and an unrestricted cash award up to $75,000. The event culminates in The Tech Awards Gala, which occurs on November 14 at the Santa Clara Convention Center.
The Global Humanitarian Award is given to those individuals who, in particular, exhibit leadership and a broad vision to build a more just and equitable planet.
This year’s winner, Dean Kamen, holds nearly 500 patents for medical devices that have “expanded the frontiers of healthcare worldwide.” As an undergraduate, Kamen designed the first portable infusion device meant to provide drug treatments to patients who formerly needed round-the-clock hospital care.
Kamen’s DEKA Research and Development Corporation has since invented devices that have led to major breakthroughs in medicine and clean energy. Through the company, Kamen has overseen the creation of a portable dialysis machine, a vascular stent and the iBot (a motorized wheelchair that has the ability to climb stairs.)
His other achivements include leading the development of a robotic arm for soldiers with amputations, the Segway ® Human Transporter, a diabetic insulin pump, and several water purification devices for the developing world.
His greatest philanthropic impact, however, lies with the 1989 founding of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). Dedicated to motivating adolescents towards an understanding and enjoyment of science and technology, FIRST serves over 300,000 young people in more than 60 countries each year. High school participants are also eligible for the organization’s scholarships, which total more than $16 million. With FIRST, Kamen hopes to inspire the next generation of technological leaders.
Kamen will accept the Global Tech Award this coming November. The gala will be attended by more than 1,4000 esteemed innovators, gathered to celebrate the power of technology to address global challenges and benefit humanity.
– Samantha Davis