Mr. William A. Thompson

Consulting Member of Technical Staff
Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies

William A. Thompson
I realize that what I learned in school was "how to learn." Engineering schools provide a basic a specific discipline but that... is only the beginning. New engineering students have a long journey ahead...they must continue to learn in their field if they are to sustain their contributions to society.

After completing his bachelor's degree at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, William A. Thompson came to Purdue, where he completed his master's degree in 1979. He joined the technical staff at Bell Laboratories and began his career in the Lightwave Department at a time when optical fiber-based communication systems were first deployed in the United States telephony network. Thompson worked on the real time monitoring and control subsystems of many digital multiplex and optical fiber communications products during his early career, including that of the first lightwave products put into service in the Bell System for long distance communication.

In 1986 Thompson was named a supervisor responsible for the hardware design of DDM-1000 (a 45 Mb/s digital multiplex product with integrated optical fiber interface). In 1989 he returned to a more satisfying technical position and was named a distinguished member of the technical staff. He became a valued system architect and has played a pivotal role in leading architecture teams working at the leading edge of optical fiber communication systems. He has led the teams defining a half dozen commercially successful transport products and was the key architect in defining Lucent Technology's current 80 channel dense wavelength division multiplex optical line system.

In 1997, Thompson was named a Bell Labs Fellow, the most prestigious award made by Bell Labs, which is the research and development arm of Lucent Technologies. Thompson has six patents pending in the area of product system architectures and is working on the architecture for the next generation of very high capacity and long distance optical transport products. Away from the laboratory, he enjoys alpine skiing and singing baritone in a choir.