Joel S. Engel

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Joel Stanley Engel (born February 4, 1936) is an American electrical engineer who made fundamental contributions to the development of cellular networks.

Born in New York City, he obtained a B.Sc. in engineering at City College of New York (1957). While working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the research staff at Draper Laboratory on inertial guidance and stabilization systems, he also obtained an M.Sc. in electrical engineering (1959). He then moved to New Jersey and worked for Bell Labs most of his active research career (1959–83), and also earned a Ph.D. from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn on a thesis on data transmission over telephone lines (1964).

He then worked at Bellcomm on guidance systems for the Apollo Program (1965) and at Page Communications Engineers in Washington, D.C. (1965–67) before returning to Bell Labs where he joined the mobile phone system research group. He also lectured at Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. After the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened up new frequencies (1968), his engineering team developed the architecture for cellular network and its parametrization (1971), which was the basis for Advanced Mobile Phone System, eventually commercialized (1983).[1][2]

After a rotation at AT&T (1973–75), Engel returned to Bell Labs as a Department Head with responsibilities for a broad range of projects.

Engel later joined Satellite Business Systems (1983–86) as VP of engineering, and became VP of research and development at MCI Communications (1986–87), when MCI acquired SBS.

He was VP of technology and Chief Technology Officer at Ameritech (1987–97).

Engel was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1996 for contributions to the theory and design of cellular telecommunications systems.



  1. ^ David Hochfelder, Joel Engel, an interview from IEEE History Center (September 30, 1999)
  2. ^ "Mobile Phone History". BBG Communications. February 25, 2005.
  3. ^ "IEEE Fellows 1980 | IEEE Communications Society".
  4. ^ Wireless History Foundation (2016). "Joel S. Engel". Wireless Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 19, 2024.

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Preceded by IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal
Succeeded by