CAMBRIDGE, MA - The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) presented the mobile phone pioneers who laid the groundwork for today’s smartphone with engineering’s top award during a Feb. 19 ceremony in Washington.
The NAE honored Martin Cooper, Joel Engel, Richard Frenkiel, Thomas Haug, and Yoshihisa Okumura with the Charles Stark Draper Prize, which annually recognizes engineers whose work has proven invaluable to society, and is considered the Nobel Prize of engineering. The prize includes a $500,000 award.
The concept of a cell phone network grew out of AT&T and Bell Labs, where Joel Engel and Richard Frenkiel were among the first engineers to develop a design for the first cellular telephone system.
Other contributions came from Yoshihisa Okumura of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Basic Research Laboratories in Japan, who studied signal propagation in urban, suburban and rural areas, and Thomas Haug of Nordic Mobile Telephony, a key figure in the standardization of cell networks across countries.
Martin Cooper, who led Motorola’s mobile phone research, unveiled the first hand-held cell phone in 1973.
“We anticipated an experience that matched, or even exceeded, landline telephones,” said Engel, who had previously worked on a satellite stabilization system at the MIT Instrumentation Lab, later renamed as Draper Laboratory. “The ability to roam to distant cities and to be able to make and receive calls was part of the original plan, but we thought of it as a business service and certainly did not anticipate its popularity.”
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.
“More often than not, a technology’s true impact on society is not understood until decades after its development, when it is taken for granted as part of our daily routine,” said Draper President James Shields. “Doc understood that long-term impact is a true measure of engineering success. By awarding the prize to engineers who have demonstrated a similar level of accomplishment and innovation in their own respective fields, we seek to publicly recognize those whose work has impacted daily life, and significantly improved the well-being and freedom of humanity.”
(from left) Thomas Haug, Martin Cooper, Yoshihisa Okumura, Richard Frenkiel and Joel Engel.
Draper Laboratory, which celebrates its 80th anniversary 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.
WASHINGTON – The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) honored the inventors of the liquid crystal display (LCD) – T. Peter Brody, George H. Heilmeier, Wolfgang Helfrich, and Martin Schadt – with the Draper Prize during a Feb. 21 ceremony in Washington.
The Draper Prize, which recognizes engineers whose accomplishments have significantly benefited society, is considered the Nobel Prize of engineering, and includes a $500,000 award. Heilmeier, Helfrich and Schadt were present at the ceremony. Brody died in 2011; his daughter accepted the award on his behalf.
Charles M. Vest, president of the NAE, noted during the ceremony that the 2012 honorees’ invention has become the primary medium through which people consume information, enabling devices including smartphones, flat-screen televisions, and computer monitors.
Earlier in the day, Heilmeier, Helfrich, and Schadt discussed their invention during a panel discussion at the Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, a magnet school in Washington. The inventors told the students about the challenges that they overcame in developing the LCD – both technical and institutional in nature.
The inventors had worked at companies where some of their superiors were concerned that the LCDs either would not benefit, or worse, could pose a threat to their current business.
Nonetheless, the LCD “in our lifetime, became ubiquitous,” as Helfrich put it during the award ceremony.
The Charles Stark Draper Prize was established and endowed by Draper Laboratory in 1988 in tribute to its founder, Dr. Charles Stark “Doc” Draper, who pioneered inertial navigation.
In a video shown at the awards ceremony, Draper President James Shields noted that “engineers seek to impact society, but they don’t necessarily seek fame and fortune.”
“More often than not, a technology’s true impact on society is not recognized until decades after its development, when it is taken for granted as part of our daily routine,” Shields said. “As a measure of true engineering success, Doc understood that.”
James Shields, Draper president; Irwin Jacobs, chairman of the NAE Council; Martin Schadt; George H. Heilmeier; Wolfgang Helfrich; Sarah Brody Webb; and Charles Vest, NAE president. (Photo credit: Event Digital Photography)
LCD Inventors Win Top Engineering Honor
CAMBRIDGE, MA – The inventors of the liquid crystal display (LCD), which has enabled devices including digital watches, smartphones, and high definition televisions, will be presented with engineering’s highest honor during a Feb. 21 ceremony in Washington.
The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) will honor T. Peter Brody, George H. Heilmeier, Wolfgang Helfrich, and Martin Schadt with the 2012 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 engineers we are honoring have created windows through which people are learning about and shaping our world,” said NAE President Charles M. Vest. “The LCD is the human interface with much of today’s technology and information.”
LCD screens are used by virtually everyone in the modern world on a daily basis, and are the medium through which people get information from a variety of everyday devices – including calculators, clocks, computer monitors, smart phones, and televisions.
Draper Prize Winners Lecture at Caltech
Drs. Willem Stemmer and Frances Arnold, who won the Draper Prize in 2011 for their research on directed protein evolution, conducted the first Draper Prize lecture on the West Coast on Nov.9. The event was held in a packed lecture hall at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena.
Directed Protein Evolution Researchers Receive Draper Prize
CAMBRIDGE, MA – The 2011 Charles Stark Draper Prize, the nation’s top engineering honor, has been awarded to Drs. Frances Arnold and Willem Stemmer for their pioneering contributions that enable researchers to guide the creation of desirable properties in proteins and cells. The prize, which includes a $500,000 award, honors engineers whose accomplishments have significantly benefited society, and is considered the Nobel Prize of engineering.
The 2011 Draper Prize was awarded by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) on Feb. 22 as part of the annual National Engineers Week celebration in Washington, D.C.
Directed evolution synthetically harnesses the power of natural selection to evolve proteins or RNA creating desirable properties not found in nature. Most directed evolution projects seek to evolve properties that are useful to humans for agriculture, medicine, or industry by optimizing characteristics not selected for in the original organism.
Arnold and Stemmer’s independent approaches to the development of directed protein evolution have helped find practical and cost effective ways to make a wide range of new and better products, including food ingredients, drugs, medical diagnostics, agricultural products, gene delivery systems, alternative energy, biofuels, and laundry aids. Their work has led to improvements in the field of medicine including better diagnostics for diseases and more powerful antibiotics and drugs to treat arthritis.
Further, their work in developing design principles for engineering complex biological systems is helping to elucidate why nature’s designs work the way they do.
Arnold and Stemmer’s work has contributed to the development of a number of more environmentally-friendly processes for manufacturing pharmaceuticals, chemicals and fuels.
Arnold, the Dick and Barbara Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology, has the distinction of having been elected to all three membership organizations of the National Academies -- the NAE in 2000, the Institute of Medicine in 2004, and the National Academy of Sciences in 2008.
Stemmer is the chief executive of Amunix, which develops drugs with an extended serum half-life, enabling less frequent injection.
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 and led his research laboratory at MIT into the real world where development mattered as much as research and where hands-on engineering education was critical to the development of future engineers and for the achievements of his Laboratory. It is intended to honor those who have contributed to the advancement of engineering and to improve public understanding of the importance of engineering and technology.
National Public Radio covers the death of Williard Boyle, a Draper Prize winner who invented the charge-coupled device (CCD), which is used today in “everything from bar code scanners to medical endoscopes to the Hubble Space Telescope.”
Vint Cerf, winner of the Draper Prize in 2001 and vice president and chief internet evangelist at Google, will serve on the panel of judges for the 2011 Google Science Fair.
Draper Prize Recipients will be Featured in "Hot Spots of Invention" Symposium
2003 Draper Prize recipient, Brad Parkinson, will give keynote at the “” symposium at the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center on Nov. 6. In addition, 1989 recipient Robert Noyce will be the topic of discussion at one of the symposium’s sessions on Nov. 7.