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Mobile Phone Pioneers Receive Draper Prize, Engineering's Top Honor
[January 03, 2013]

Mobile Phone Pioneers Receive Draper Prize, Engineering's Top Honor

CAMBRIDGE, MA, Jan 03, 2013 ( via COMTEX) -- The mobile phone pioneers who laid the groundwork for today's smartphone will be presented with engineering's highest honor during a Feb. 19 ceremony in Washington.

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) will honor Martin Cooper, Joel Engel, Richard Frenkiel, Thomas Haug, and Yoshihisa Okumura with the Charles Stark Draper Prize, which annually recognizes engineers whose accomplishments have significantly benefited society, and is considered the Nobel Prize of engineering. The prize includes a $500,000 award.

The idea for cellular phones grew out of exploration that began in the 1940s at AT&T and Bell Labs. Joel Engel and Richard Frenkiel of Bell Labs were among the earliest engineers to develop a plan for a network of low-power transmitters that came to be known as cells.

Later improvements that enabled mobile users to make and maintain calls while traveling over wider areas came from the work of Yoshihisa Okumura of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Basic Research Laboratories in Japan, and Thomas Haug of Nordic Mobile Telephony.

Martin Cooper, who led Motorola's mobile phone research, made the first call on a hand-held cell phone in 1973.

The Charles Stark Draper Prize was established and endowed by Draper Laboratory in 1988 in tribute to its founder, Dr. Charles Stark Draper, who pioneered inertial navigation. It honors those who have contributed to the advancement of engineering and to improve public understanding of the importance of engineering and technology.

Draper Laboratory Draper Laboratory, which celebrates 80 years of service to the nation in 2013, is a not-for-profit, engineering research and development organization dedicated to solving critical national problems in national security, space systems, biomedical systems, and energy. Core capabilities include guidance, navigation and control; miniature low power systems; highly reliable complex systems; information and decision systems; autonomous systems; biomedical and chemical systems; and secure networks and communications. Read the full story at

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