Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering

Acceptance Remarks by Richard H. Frenkiel on behalf of the group

Our thanks to Dr. Vest, the Academy and the Draper Laboratory for this great honor, and to our families, friends and colleagues who have come here tonight to share this moment with us. 

The creation of cellular that we celebrate tonight was always more of a journey than a destination—a wide and winding road of creation and conflict traveled by thousands of pioneers, doing many types of work, over more than a half century of time. 

We five reflect that diversity rather well.  Dr. Okumura provided the propagation data that we desperately needed to create the first cellular plans, and he pioneered a statistical approach that was perfect for a multi-cell system.  Joel Engel was what the philosophers call a polymath-- part researcher, worrying about delay spread and diversity, part systems engineer, shaping the cellular architecture, and part pamphleteer, sending passionate prose to the FCC.  I worked with him on the architecture and the passionate prose, and then went on to the details-- things like locating and handoff, and cell-splitting, and standards.  Thomas Haug had an international vision.  He led the way to the Nordic Network, and got all of Europe to agree to GSM—a remarkable achievement in the days before the European Union.  Marty Cooper had a vision of portability.  He took the cell phone from the trunk of his car to the palm of his hand, and started us on the path to truly personal communications. 

And then a new generation of pioneers created 3G systems with Internet access, and smart phones, and thousands of those useful “apps.”  Thanks to their vision and skill, there are now six billion cell phones in a world of seven billion people, and the cell phone has become an important part of daily life.

And even in those early days when we were young, we walked that winding road with hundreds of cellular pioneers.  More than a few of them were giants in our field, and too many of them are now gone.  In our hearts, we share this moment with all of them.  We know that for an engineer, the best life is to work with brilliant and creative colleagues, on problems that are fascinating and difficult, and to dream that someday the work you are doing will change the world.  We were blessed to have walked with those early pioneers—those old friends—and to have shared with them that powerful dream, and that wonderful work.

Thank you.