National Academy of Engineering to Present $1.5 Million for Engineering's Highest Honors


Thu, January 03, 2013

Washington, DC, January 03, 2013 —

The engineering profession's highest honors for 2013, presented by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), recognize three outstanding achievements: creation of first generation cellular telephony; advancements that enabled LASIK and PRK eye surgery; and a bold new way of educating engineering students. The awards will be presented at a gala dinner event in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 19, 2013.

Martin Cooper, Joel S. Engel, Richard H. Frenkiel, Thomas Haug, and Yoshihisa Okumura will receive the Charles Stark Draper Prize — a $500,000 annual award given to engineers whose accomplishments have significantly benefited society — “for their pioneering contributions to the world’s first cellular telephone networks, systems, and standards.”

Rangaswamy Srinivasan, James J. Wynne, and Samuel E. Blum will receive the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize — a $500,000 biennial award recognizing a bioengineering achievement that significantly improves the human condition — “for the development of laser ablative photodecomposition, enabling LASIK and PRK eye surgery.”

Richard K. Miller, David V. Kerns Jr., and Sherra E. Kerns will receive the Bernard M. Gordon Prize — a $500,000 award issued annually that recognizes innovation in engineering and technology education — “for guiding the creation of Olin College and its student-centered approach to developing effective engineering leaders.” Half of each Gordon Prize is awarded to the winner's institution to support the continued development, refinement, and dissemination of the innovation.

“The National Academy of Engineering is delighted to honor these engineers who have each had such a profound impact on society,” said NAE president Charles M. Vest. “Although their accomplishments vary from communications to medicine to education, each demonstrates how engineering improves lives.”

The Charles Stark Draper Prize

Cellular telephony is an exceptional technological achievement that has enabled us to communicate from virtually any location and access a myriad of information at the touch of a button. The device connects people, provides security, and bridges informational gaps in modern society. Martin Cooper, Joel S. Engel, Richard H. Frenkiel, Thomas Haug, and Yoshihisa Okumura each made substantial contributions to its creation.

The first limited form of mobile telephone service was provided by AT&T in 1946, and the initial ideas for cellular systems emerged at Bell Labs a year later. A lack of channels inhibited further exploration of these ideas until the late 1960s, when Bell Labs began planning activities for a "high capacity" mobile telephone system. Engel and Frenkiel, with the late Phil Porter, were the earliest engineers involved in this work. They developed a plan for a network of low-power transmitters and receivers spread throughout a region in small coverage areas that came to be called cells, which allowed service to be expanded to millions of users with a limited number of channels. This plan resulted in technical report that was filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in 1971 presenting the design for what would become the Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS), the first cellular telephone system in the U.S.

At the same time while working at Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) Research Laboratories, Yoshihisa Okumura was laying the groundwork for a network system for simultaneous cell phone use by the masses in Japan. Through the investigation of precise propagation of radio waves in a high frequency range, Okumura found data that provided the foundation for a mobile model that could be used over wide areas that included urban cities, hills, and mountains. In 1979, the NTT’s network became the world’s first fully integrated commercial cell phone system and had the most advanced electronic switching.

Shortly after the cellular network was developed, Martin Cooper, who was working at Motorola at the time, unveiled the first portable hand-held cellular phone. After conducting in-depth research and filing several patents on technologies needed for the device, Cooper and his team produced a fully functional phone that utilized radio waves and frequency reuse to enable mobility and operability over a wide area. In 1973, Cooper made the first mobile telephone call on his cell phone prototype from a New York City street to a landline phone at Bell Laboratories. The phone call was answered by Engel.

By 1960 several Nordic countries had their own local mobile systems, however, cell phone users were not able to transfer calls between towers. From 1970 to 1982, Thomas Haug worked to develop the Nordic Mobile Telephony (NMT) system, which provided analog service across the various countries. In 1982, inspired by the successful Nordic example, Haug formed a research group to create a system that would allow users to place and receive calls anywhere in the world. By 1992 Haug and his colleagues had successfully developed the new digital high-quality and high-security mobile communication system called Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), which permitted users to freely move in and between any countries where the system was installed while setting up and receiving calls automatically.

Martin Cooper worked as a division manager and head of R&D for Motorola during a 29-year tenure. After leaving Motorola in 1983, he co-founded several business ventures including ArrayComm LLC., GreatCall Inc., and Dyna LLC., where he now serves as president. Cooper is also a member of the Technology Advisory Council of the FCC and serves on the U.S. Department of Commerce Spectrum Advisory Committee. Cooper is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Joel Engel joined Bell Laboratories in 1959 where he held a number of systems engineering and development management positions through 1983. Engel is recognized for leading the original team of architects of the first cellular telephone system at Bell. After Bell, he went on to become vice president at Satellite Business Systems, which later became MCI, and then Ameritech in 1987. In 1994 Engel received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honor for technological achievement, bestowed by the president of the United States. He is now the president of JSE Consulting. Engel is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Richard Frenkiel began his work on cellular systems at Bell Labs in 1966. In 1969, at a conference in Boulder, Colorado, he presented the first public description of what would become the AMPS system, and working with Engel, he went on to author sections of AT&T’s 1971 cellular proposal to the FCC. Continuing with work on the development of the AMPS system in the 1970s, he invented a method for cell-splitting that greatly simplified the logistics of cellular growth and reduced system cost by more than half. He became head of mobile systems engineering at Bell Labs in 1977, and served on the EIA committee that prepared the first standard for cellular operation in the U.S. In 1983 he left cellular to become head of R&D for AT&T’s cordless telephone business unit. Following his retirement from Bell Labs in 1993, he joined WINLAB, the Wireless Information Networks Laboratory at Rutgers, where he teaches a course in wireless business strategy. Frenkiel received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation with Engel in 1994 and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Thomas Haug joined the Swedish Board of Telecommunications in 1966, after working with the Ericsson group in Stockholm and Westinghouse in Baltimore, Md. In 1970 he was appointed Secretary of the joint Nordic Mobile Telephony project for cellular communication called NMT and later became its Chairman. From 1982 onwards he headed the team that created the GSM cellular network and served as the chairman of the European GSM committee. He was awarded the Gold Medal of the Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences in 1987, the Philipp Reiss Medal (Germany) in 1993 and the Eduard Rhein Prize in 1997. Haug retired in 1992, but continued to serve as a mobile telephony consultant in developing countries.

Yoshihisa Okumura joined the NTT in 1950 where he began to study wave propagation, non-line-of-sight propagation and mobile communication propagation. During this time Okumura led the Mobile Radio Research Group that formulated and developed the plan for the "High-Capacity Wide-Area Cellular Automobile Telephone System,” which resulted in the first high-capacity wide-area cellular automobile service in Japan. In 1975 Okumura left NTT and started working on digital beepers for Toshiba. He then went on to teach a masters program in the graduate school of electrical engineering at the Kanazawa Institute of Technology. The research and data that Okumura discovered while at NTT is known worldwide as the “Okumura Curve”.

The Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize

The development and application of ablative photodecomposition in corrective eye surgeries, known today as PRK and LASIK, has given millions of people throughout the world better vision. At the end of 2011, approximately 25 million people had undergone pulsed ultraviolet laser surgery to improve their eyesight, a procedure made possible by the collaborative efforts of Rangaswamy Srinivasan, James J. Wynne, and Samuel Blum.

In 1981 while working at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, Srinivasan, Wynne, and Blum discovered that pulsed laser radiation at 193 nm from an argon fluoride (ArF) excimer laser could etch animal tissue, with sub-micron precision. Just as important, the laser caused no thermal damage to the adjacent tissue.

The initial discovery was made on Nov. 27, 1981, when Srinivasan brought leftovers from his Thanksgiving meal into the lab. He irradiated turkey cartilage with pulses of light from the ArF (193 nm) excimer laser, and found it made a clean "incision" in the tissue. On subsequent days, Srinivasan and Blum carried out additional turkey cartilage procedures under controlled conditions, measuring the laser’s effect and the number of pulses used to produce incisions.

In parallel studies, Wynne conducted a comparable experiment using pulsed laser radiation at 532nm from a Q-switched, frequency-doubled, Nd:YAG laser (532 nm), which did not result in a clean incision like that of the excimer laser. Instead, it left a burned and damaged region of tissue.

In 1982 and 1983, Srinivasan and Wynne began to study the effects of the ultraviolet excimer laser on human tissue through collaborations with cardiologists, ophthalmologists, dermatologists, and dental anatomists. The two men, along with co-workers, obtained fresh arterial tissue from a cadaver at New York Hospital and irradiated a segment of the aorta with both 193 nm light from the ArF excimer laser and separately with 532 nm pulses from the Nd:YAG laser. The experiment yielded the same results as the turkey experiment. The excimer laser left no detectable evidence of thermal damage to the underlying and adjacent tissue while the 532 nm pulses caused visible thermal damage.

In 1983, Srinivasan, his IBM colleague Bodil Braren, and ophthalmologist Stephen Trokel published a paper on the potential for laser eye surgery in the American Journal of Ophthalmology. The publication detailed an excimer laser experiment on several enucleated calf eyes, which also yielded excellent results and is regarded by the ophthalmic community as a seminal paper in laser refractive surgery.

Samuel Blum worked at Batelle Memorial Institute before joining IBM in 1959 where he studied semiconductor materials for 31 years until his retirement. He holds 11 patents, one of which is the ultraviolet excimer laser surgical procedures invention. In 2002, Blum, along with colleagues Wynne and Srinivasan, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In 2010, they shared the Rank Prize in Optoelectronics with ophthalmologists Steven Trokel and Francis L'Esperance.

Srinivasan joined the IBM Research Center in 1961 as a research staff member. He was given freedom to work on problems of his choice in the area of ultraviolet photochemistry of organic compounds. In 1963 he was promoted to the position of manager of fundamental photochemical research, a position he held until his retirement in 1990. During his tenure at IBM, Srinivasan and his team published 130 scientific articles and obtained 10 patents related to excimer laser ablation. He has received several IBM Honors for the excimer laser surgery achievement, together with Wynne and Blum, including the Outstanding Innovation Award, the Research Patent Portfolio Award, and the Corporate Patent Portfolio Award. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1999. He is currently the president of UVTech Associates, a consulting company.

Wynne joined IBM’s Zurich Research Laboratory in 1969 and came to the IBM Research Center in 1971. He was the manager of the laser physics and chemistry group when his team discovered the use of the excimer laser for surgery. Wynne has written numerous articles in scientific journals, holds patents in laser dentistry and laser dermatology, and has received numerous awards. Like his partners, Wynne is a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Wynne, still working at IBM, is currently exploring a new application of the excimer laser to remove necrotic lesions of the skin, including char from third degree burns, and decubitus, stasis, and neuropathic ulcers from diabetic wounds and bed sores. It’s anticipated that this application will result in a “smart scalpel,” producing no collateral damage to the viable tissue underlying the necrotic tissue.

The Bernard M. Gordon Prize

Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering was founded in 1997 to prepare “students to become exemplary engineering innovators who recognize needs, design solutions, and engage in creative enterprises for the good of the world.” Since the first students enrolled 10 years ago, Olin has become a significant agent for innovation in undergraduate engineering education with the goal of preparing the next generation for the complex, global challenges of the 21st century.

The F.W. Olin Foundation established Olin College to literally start over in higher education and develop a new paradigm for engineering education, addressing at once all the concerns raised about engineering education at the time. Furthermore, the purpose of the new institution is to “become an important and constant contributor to the advancement of engineering education in America and throughout the world.” To insure that a fresh approach was used, Olin does not offer tenure, has no academic departments, offers only degrees in engineering, and provides large merit-based scholarships to all admitted students.

Armed with one of the largest gifts in the history of higher education, the F. W. Olin Foundation recruited Richard Miller as Olin’s first employee in 1999. To help build the college from scratch, Miller recruited the founding academic leadership team including David Kerns and Sherra Kerns later that year. Together, they developed a vision for an engaging approach to teaching engineering and a new culture of learning that is intensely student centered. Perhaps the most important contribution they made was the creation of a profoundly inclusive and collaborative process of experimentation and decision-making involving students in every aspect of the invention of the institution. This is illustrated by the decision in 2001 to recruit 30 young students to spend a year as “partners” in residence with the faculty in conducting many experiments together before establishing the first curriculum.

With the extensive help of a collaborative team of faculty and students, and the guidance of the late Dr. Michael Moody, a novel academic program emerged. Some of the features include a nearly gender-balanced community, a strong focus on design process throughout all four years, extensive use of team projects, a requirement that students repeatedly “stand and deliver” to the entire community at the end of every semester, an experiential requirement in business and entrepreneurship, a capstone requirement outside of engineering, and a year-long corporate-sponsored design project in which corporations pay $50,000 per project.

The new learning model, and the inclusive process that produced it, are attracting substantial international attention. In the past three years about 200 universities have visited Olin to benchmark and explore ways of initiating major changes in their own curriculum. Nine other institutions have already made substantial changes that were inspired by the Olin program, and dozens of others are considering such changes. In the next ten years, Olin aspires to build a “movement” among like-minded institutions to globally transform the education of undergraduate engineers.

Richard Miller, as the President and first employee, provided the strategic vision and overall leadership of all aspects of the process of developing this new institution, including the shaping of its academic and institutional mission. Dr. David Kerns, as Founding Provost, recruited Olin’s founding faculty and deans, led the establishment of the collaborative faculty process resulting in Olin’s three program curricula, and established the employment relations for faculty in an environment without tenure. Dr. Sherra Kerns, as Founding VP of Innovation and Research, led the initiative to establish a gender-balanced community, led the efforts to achieve all levels of accreditation for the new programs, and led in creating a culture of innovation and intellectual vitality throughout the institution. All three also contributed to specific dimensions of the academic program, together with the faculty and students.

David Kerns served as the Founding Provost and Chief Academic Officer of Olin from 1999 to 2007. He is the Franklin and Mary Olin Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Prior to joining Olin, Kerns taught at Vanderbilt University and served as Electrical Engineering Department Chair, Director of the Management of Technology Program, Associate Dean and Acting Dean. He also served in administrative and faculty positions at several other universities. In 1984 Dr. Kerns was the Founding Department Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Florida State University – FAMU College of Engineering. Kerns was a member of the technical staff at Bell Laboratories early in his career and has co-founded several successful technology-based companies. He holds 13 patents, is a Fellow of the IEEE, has authored or co-authored numerous publications and two textbooks, and served two terms as President of the IEEE Education Society.

Sherra Kerns served as Vice President for Innovation and Research of Olin from 1999 to 2007. She is the F. W. Olin Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. She has served in numerous other leadership roles, including President of the ASEE, Board member of ABET, and President of the National Electrical Engineering Department Heads’ Association, and has served on numerous advisory committees for the NRC Naval Studies Board, the NAE, and other organizations. She is a Fellow of the IEEE and of the ASEE. She has authored numerous technical journal publications and has spoken world-wide on technical topics, as well as engineering education innovation. Prior to joining Olin, S. Kerns served as Vanderbilt University’s Electrical Engineering Department Chair and as Director of the University Consortium for Research on Electronics in Space.

Richard Miller has served as the President (and first employee) of Olin since 1999; he also holds an appointment as professor of mechanical engineering. He served as Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Iowa from 1992-1999, and spent the previous 17 years on the engineering faculties at the University of Southern California and the University of California Santa Barbara. He has authored numerous publications and given numerous keynote presentations. He has served as chair of the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Advisory Committee and served on advisory committees for the World Bank, National Academy of Engineering, Harvard University, US Military Academy at West Point, and other institutions. Miller is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

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The Draper Prize was established in 1988 at the request of the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc., Cambridge, Mass., to honor the memory of "Doc" Draper, the "father of inertial navigation," and to increase public understanding of the contributions of engineering and technology. The prize is awarded annually.

The Russ Prize was established in 1999 with a multimillion dollar gift to Ohio University by alumnus and esteemed engineer Fritz Russ and his wife, Dolores. Awarded biennially, the prize recognizes bioengineering achievements worldwide that are in widespread use and have improved the human condition.

The Gordon Prize was established in 2001 as a biennial prize recognizing new modalities and experiments in education that develop effective engineering leaders. Recognizing the potential to spur a revolution in engineering education, NAE announced in 2003 that the prize would be awarded annually.

Founded in 1964, the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE) is a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. The mission of the National Academy of Engineering is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology.

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