MENLO PARK, Calif. – The Tech Museum of Innovation this week named Rice University’s Connexions website, which was developed with the support of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation,  as one of five winners in the education category of its annual awards to recognize the use of technology to benefit humanity.

Connexions is a non-profit start-up launched at Rice in 1999 whose creators hope  will reinvent the way scholars  write, edit and publish textbooks and other educational materials. Visitors to the site can contribute, reorganize and re-publish materials at the site with the help of free software the site offers.

The San Jose-based museum’s decision to name Connexions as one of five 2006 education laureates puts the website in the running for the Microsoft Education Award, the winner of which will be awarded $50,000. The education winners were among 25 laureates that the museum cited overall.

“Becoming a Tech Museum Award Laureate means a lot to us at Connexions because it indicates that we’re on the right track towards making a substantive, sustainable impact on the world education scene,” said Connexions founder Richard Baraniuk, a professor of electrical and computer engineering. “More than a half-million people across the globe already are logging onto Connexions each month because they’ve discovered how easy it is to use and build upon our content.”

The Connections website adapts the open-source concept of software development to scholarly academic content. It combines unique software to create and manage documents with an innovative legal framework that enables anyone worldwide to publish and share educational materials without charge.

Its online repository, the “Content Commons,” contains thousands of scholarly lessons that can be combined in any order to form textbooks, courses, lesson plans and study guides.

The 25 Tech Museum Award Laureates were selected by Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology and Society from 951 entries representing 98 countries. Five laureates were selected in each of five categories: education, environment, economic development, health and equality. A winner in each category will be chosen Nov. 15 at the Tech Museum Awards.

“The Tech Museum Awards are an incredibly important way to call attention to some of the most meaningful innovations in science and technology in the world and the often unsung heroes behind them,” said Peter Friess, president of The Tech Museum. “The laureates who we honor serve as great role models to future generations of inventors and engineers, and their work reminds us that innovation can be applied in profound ways to benefit humanity.”

The Tech Museum Awards represent a collaborative effort among educational institutions and businesses. Silicon Valley leaders supporting The Tech Museum Awards include presenting sponsor Applied Materials and Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society. Award category sponsors include Intel, Accenture, Microsoft, Agilent Technologies Foundation and The Swanson Foundation. Program sponsors include Wells Fargo, KPMG, Celerity, Cadence, Genentech, The Skoll Foundation, Santa Clara Valley National Bank, Hewlett-Packard, NBC11, The San Jose Mercury News, American Airlines and The Fairmont San Jose.

For more information about the awards visit

For more information about Connexions visit its website at

The Tech Museum of Innovation is an interactive technology and science experience.  Located in San Jose, California – the Capital of Silicon Valley – its mission, as a public-benefit corporation, is to inspire the innovator in everyone.  Through hands-on exhibits, educational programs, the annual Tech Challenge student team competition, and the internationally recognized Tech Museum Awards, The Tech Museum of Innovation honors the past, celebrates the present, and encourages the development of innovative ideas for a more promising future.  For more information about The Tech Museum of Innovation, visit

Rice University is consistently ranked one of America’s best teaching and research universities. It is distinguished by its: size-2,850 undergraduates and 1,950 graduate students; selectivity-10 applicants for each place in the freshman class; resources-an undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio of 6-to-1, and the fifth largest endowment per student among American universities; residential college system, which builds communities that are both close-knit and diverse; and collaborative culture, which crosses disciplines, integrates teaching and research, and intermingles undergraduate and graduate work. Rice’s wooded campus is located in the nation’s fourth largest city and on America’s South Coast. For more information visit

About the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since 1966 to help solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, the environment, global development, performing arts, philanthropy, population, and makes grants to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. A full list of all the Hewlett Foundation’s grants can be found at