IEEE awards prizes for tech that benefits humanity

Student projects for handheld diagnostic tool and technology for helping handicapped children win awards from the society for electrical and electronic engineers.

Elinor Mills
Elinor Mills Former Staff Writer
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service and the Associated Press.
2 min read

I always like to write about technology that wasn't designed to serve a market (meaning, consumers who will pay) per se, but which was designed with a humanitarian need in mind.

Students from the B.V. Bhoomaraddi College of Engineering and Technology in India won an award for developing electronic aids for handicapped children. IEEE

On Thursday in Los Angeles the IEEE (formerly the acronym for Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) is holding its first IEEE Presidents' Change the World Competition award ceremony.

The world's largest technical professional society is granting prize money to students from around the world who develop "unique solutions to real-world problems using engineering, science, computing and leadership skills to benefit their community and/or humanity as a whole."

The IEEE Student Humanitarian Supreme Prize of $10,000 will be awarded to two Stanford students for developing what they called the NanoLab, "a hand-held diagnostic laboratory capable of quantitative multiplex protein detection in a very simple to use, wash-free assay," which would be particularly useful in developing countries.

A team of 19 students from B.V. Bhoomaraddi College of Engineering and Technology in India are receiving a $5,000 prize for developing electronic games, devices, and toys designed to stimulate physically and mentally handicapped children and encourage exercises.

A bicycle-powered grain crusher, targeting developing countries without easy access to electricity for motors, won five students from Rowan University in New Jersey a $2,500 prize.

Smaller prizes were awarded for other projects, including one involving robots in agriculture, several related to distributing electricity in rural and small communities, and electronic health care for the under-privileged.

Every fall the Tech Museum in San Jose, Calif., grants awards for technology innovation that benefits humanity.

Corrected at 8:50 a.m. PDT: The award ceremony is Thursday.