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William C. Y. Lee wins alumni award for impact on wireless industry

William C.Y. Lee, a pioneer in the advancement of cell phone technology, is the recipient of the Ohio State Alumni Association’s Archie M. Griffin Professional Achievement Award. The award will be presented during the annual awards ceremony on October 7, 2016 at the Ohio Union.

A two-time graduate of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, (MS Electrical Engineering, 1960; PhD Electrical Engineering, 1963), Lee is considered the world’s leading scholar in wireless systems. His books on cellular technology are considered the “standard” references for cellular telecommunications education and have been used to train an entire generation of engineers in the wireless industry.

The Griffin Award is presented to alumni who have superb records of distinguished career accomplishments and who have made outstanding contributions to their professions.

Early in his career, Lee spent 15 years at Bell Labs as a lead developer of the advanced wireless system, AMPS, and created the widely used “Lee model” for wireless signal propagation. Later, he joined the ITT Defense Communications Division, where he headed the advanced mobile communications system.

In 1990, Lee invented and patented a new microcell system that increased radio capacity by 2.5 times over conventional systems. He also led the team that won the personal communications network (PCN) license in the United Kingdom for PacTel and directed the application of PacTel’s PCS experimental trial in 1993. He went on to assist Qualcomm in the development of its Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology. Under Lee’s leadership, the first CDMA commercial system was completed in 1995.

Other professional accomplishments include previous positions as chief scientist and vice president of Vodafone AirTouch PLC, chairman of LinkAir Communications and chairman of GoAnywhere Inc. Currently he serves as the honorary dean of the School of Advanced Communications at Peking University in China.

Lee is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and has served on numerous councils, including the California State Council on Science and Technology, U.S. Council on Competitiveness and the Federal Communications Commission Technical Advisory Council. He has earned many prestigious awards, including the CDMA Industry Achievement Award, IEEE Third Millennium Medal Award and IEEE VTS Hall of Fame Award. Lee has published more than 300 articles and seven textbooks on wireless communications. He holds 35 patents with five more pending.

Previously, Lee received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the College of Engineering in 1989, as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership in 2014.

- article courtesy of College of Engineering communications team