News Release

2011 Marconi Society Symposium Comes to UC San Diego

San Diego, CA, September 2, 2011 -- The University of California, San Diego will host the 2011 Marconi Society Symposium next week in advance of Society’s Marconi Prize ceremony — an event that will honor two former UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering professors with what is widely considered to be the de facto “Nobel Prize” for  telecommunications.


The 2011 Marconi Society Symposium is organized as a point/counter-point dialogue between two groups of panelists who will explore the topic of whether the Internet will survive, and if so, what part hardware (infrastructure) and software (applications) will play in creating a cohesive strategy.

The first of two panels will provide a visionary look at where the Internet and communications capabilities are headed and will include a number of live demonstrations of advanced technology, such as streaming 4K digital cinema, live audio mixing and telemedicine applications. The second panel will address the extreme challenges and technological innovations needed to ensure greater infrastructure capabilities, bandwidth capacity and support for low-power mobile devices -- all of which must be addressed to ensure the Internet’s future.

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The 2011 Marconi Symposium, held in memory of the late inventor Guglielmo Marconi, will take place at the UC San Diego division of Calit2 on Sept. 8.

The speakers at the Symposium, which takes place from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8 in UCSD’s Atkinson Hall Auditorium, include Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist (and 1998 Marconi Prize winner) Vint Cerf, Calit2 Senior Research Scientist Thomas A. DeFanti and Calit2 Research Scientist Albert Yu-Min Lin, as well as two directors from Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent: Robert Tkach (Transmission System Research) and Peter Winzer (Optical Transmission Systems). Ramesh Rao, director of the UCSD division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), will chair the first panel. Chairing the second panel are Andrew Chraplyvy, Optical Networks Research Vice President at Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent and a Marconi Fellow; and Theodore Rappaport, director of Wireless Networking and Communications at the University of Texas at Austin.

Another featured speaker at the event is Qualcomm, Inc. co-founder and former UCSD professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE) Irwin Mark Jacobs, who will be awarded the prestigious 2011 Marconi Society Fellowship and Prize at an awards ceremony for invited guests following the symposium. Also to be honored is the late UCSD ECE Professor Jack Keil Wolf, who sadly died just after his selection for the Marconi Prize. Wolf’s grandson, David Hallac, will accept the award on his behalf.  Read our June 8 story for more background on their groundbreaking careers and research in digital communication. Our obituary on Wolf is also online.

Throughout their lengthy careers, Jacobs and Wolf dramatically boosted the speed, capacity and accuracy of voice and data transmissions around the world and helped propel the information revolution. Their contributions are considered technological genius by experts yet seem nothing short of magic to the billions of people who use cell phones, swipe credit cards, watch DVDs or retrieve digitized information each and every day.

“Although they did their research independently, in terms of innovation they complete one another,” says UCSD’s Eitan Yaakobi, who received his PhD in electrical engineering at UCSD under the guidance of Wolf and went on to win the 2009 Marconi Young Scholar award.

Adds Yaakobi: “Many such prizes are awarded for either achievements in academia or in industry, but with this award, it is both. No less important than having technical skills is knowing how to make things happen, and both of these men have achieved that.”

Although the Nobel Foundation has declined, per Alfred Nobel’s stated wishes, to add additional prizes to its annual awards for physics, chemistry, physiology/medicine, literature and peace, the Marconi Prize is considered to be the pinnacle honor in the fields of computing, telecommunications or information technology. Past Marconi Fellows include Google founders Sergei Brin and Larry Page (2004), wireless pioneer Andrew Viterbi and  Arthur C. Clarke (1982), known both for laying the framework for geostationary communications satellites and for his seminal novel, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which was later made into a movie classic by director Stanley Kubrick.

UCSD photonics researcher Bill Ping Piu Kuo will also be honored at the ceremony as one of three students worldwide to be selected as a 2011 Marconi Young Scholar, in part for his key work developing new technologies for data transmission to send and receive signals of unprecedented speed and quality -- and with low power consumption.

About the 2011 Marconi Society Symposium: Advance registration is required. Admission, which includes breakfast and lunch, is $50 for general audiences; $25 for Qualcomm and UCSD affiliates; $15 for students (with valid ID). Click here for information about parking.

About The Marconi Society:Established in 1974 by Gioia Marconi Braga, The Marconi Society recognizes one or two scientists each year who – like Braga’s father, radio inventor Guglielmo Marconi – pursue advances in communications and information technology for the social, economic and cultural development of all humanity.  Past winners have included Adobe Systems founders John Warnock and Charles Geschke, who helped transform print communications into a digital work flow, Internet pioneers Vint Cerf and Bob Metcalfe and Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. For more information, visit



Media Contacts

Tiffany Fox
Qualcomm Institute