Distinguished Alumni Award - Engineering

Gerard J. Foschini Ph.D. ’67

Gerard J. Foschini Ph.D. ’67 is a telecommunications pioneer who spent more than 50 years with Bell Laboratories and is renowned for his contributions to the science and technology of multiple-antenna wireless communications. His contributions to wireless communications research have made a lasting impact on modern technology including cell phones, wireless devices and Wi-Fi.

Foschini has performed extensive research on both point-to-point and network communication systems for wired, wireless and optical applications, for which he holds 18 patents.

He is best known for his work, initiated with his colleague Mike Gans, on the fundamental bit rates possible for wireless communications employing schemes using multiple antennas at both the transmitter and receiver. They showed that surprisingly huge bit rates are possible in strongly scattering environments that were initially thought to be problematic. Foschini showed that a diagonally layered space time presentation of a vector transmit  signal enables a one-dimensional signaling scheme to achieve much the same rate as a complex higher dimensional method. These, along with other related results, help underpin much of wireless communications research today.

Foschini joined Bell Labs in 1961 and held the position of Distinguished Inventor in Bell's Wireless Research Laboratory in Crawford Hill, New Jersey, until his retirement in 2013. He has taught at Princeton University and Rutgers University and published more than 100 papers and journal articles. Foschini is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of both the IEEE and Bell Labs. In 2002, he received the Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award, an honor given to New Jersey residents who have changed the world with their inventions, and also received the 2000 Bell Labs Inventor’s Award. Foschini's additional honors include the 2006 IEEE Eric E. Sumner Award, the 2008 IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal and the IEEE Communication Theory Committee Technical Achievement Award.

Foschini earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from New York University.

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