Three Life Fellows are among the five engineers who share this year’s Charles Stark Draper Prize. Awarded by the National Academy of Engineering, the prize—which comes with a US $500 000 honorarium—is given to engineers whose accomplishments have benefited society.
The five were recognized for their “pioneering contributions to the world’s first cellular telephone networks, systems, and standards.”
Martin Cooper is cofounder and chairman of the board of Dyna, an R&D company in Del Mar, Calif., that focuses on broadband technology.
As a general manager at Motorola in the 1970s, Cooper conceived the first handheld mobile phone and led the team that developed it and brought it to market. He is also cited as the first person to make a handheld cellular phone call, in 1973. While walking along Sixth Avenue in New York City and being trailed by reporters, Cooper called one of his chief competitors, Joel Engel, who is sharing the Draper Prize. At the time, Engel was manager of the corporate planning department at AT&T Labs, in Florham Park, N.J.
Cooper is a member of the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society.
Joel Engel is president of JSE Consulting, a company in Armonk, N.Y., that provides technical guidance to telecommunications equipment suppliers and venture capitalists.
While working at Bell Telephone Laboratories in the late 1960s, Engel led the team that produced what became the Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS)—the first cellphone system. From 1973 to 1975 he worked with AT&T Labs and was editor of AT&T’s “High Capacity Mobile Telephone System,” a technical report that served as a blueprint for AMPS. A condensed version of the report was submitted to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, and a decade later, the FCC allocated the spectrum necessary for AT&T to build the system. AMPS was the primary cellular network in the United States and in several other countries until the early 2000s, when telephone companies began to switch to digital networks.
An oral history of Engel’s life and career is available on the IEEE History Center’s website.
Richard Frenkiel is a senior advisor at the Wireless Information Network Laboratory at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.
Frenkiel worked with Engel at Bell Labs in the late 1960s to develop a networking system that divided cities into small coverage areas, called cells. The network tracked mobile telephones in cars and other vehicles and switched calls from cell to cell as the telephone moved through a locality. The system formed the basis of today’s cellular architecture. Frenkiel invented the underlying cell concept, which simplified the process of adding smaller cells to a cellular network as more customers demanded service.
The following people were recognized by IEEE societies.
The IEEE Photonics Society presented IEEE member Alexandra Boltasseva with its 2013 Young Investigator Award, which honors an individual who has made outstanding technical contributions before his or her 35th birthday.
Boltasseva, now 35, was recognized for “seminal contributions to the development of metal-dielectric waveguides for integrated optics and novel approaches for realization of nanoplasmonic devices.” Nanoscale plastic spheres placed in a regular array on a flat surface, the devices can be used as miniature biosensors.
Boltasseva is an assistant professor at the Purdue University School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, in West Lafayette, Ind. She is also an adjunct professor at Technical University of Denmark, in Copenhagen. Her research focuses on nanophotonics, nanofabrication, plasmonics, and metamaterials.
The IEEE Computer Society presented the following awards.
Though not an IEEE member, Nell B. Dale received the society’s Taylor L. Booth Education Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to computer science and engineering education.
Dale was a professor at the University of Texas at Austin from 1972 until she retired in 2000. She coauthored 18 textbooks on such subjects as problem solving, programming, C++, and Java. She helped establish the university’s Women in Science programs, which offer tutoring, mentoring, and career guidance to first-year science students, regardless of gender.
IEEE Fellow Yale Patt received this year’s Harry H. Goode Award for achievements in information processing.
Patt is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. While an assistant professor at Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y., in the mid-1960s, he introduced the WOS module, which was the first complex logic gate implemented on a single piece of silicon. Two decades later, as a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley, he and his students introduced HPS, a high-performance microprocessor architecture.
He is a member of the IEEE Computer Society.