Japan cellphone pioneer awarded Draper Prize

Kyodo

Japanese researcher Yoshihisa Okumura and four others received the prestigious Charles Stark Draper Prize at a ceremony in Washington on Tuesday for pioneering contributions to the world’s first cellular telephone networks, systems and standards.

Okumura, an 86-year-old honorary professor of Kanazawa Institute of Technology, is the first Japanese winner of the Draper Prize, one of three prizes awarded by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. The three awards are considered the “Nobel Prizes of engineering.”

The Draper Prize was established in 1988 in tribute to Dr. Charles Stark Draper, who pioneered inertial navigation, to honor those who have contributed to the advancement of engineering and to improve public understanding of the importance of engineering and technology, the U.S. engineering academy said.

The cash prize of $500,000 will be divided between Okumura and the four other winners — Americans Martin Cooper, Joel S. Engel and Richard H. Frenkiel, and Norway’s Thomas Haug.

Okumura studied wave propagation and mobile communication propagation while working for Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corp., the predecessor of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.