Photo of awardee

Theodore “Ted” S. Rappaport

David Lee/Ernst Weber Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering,
Polytechnic Institute of New York University
BSEE ’82, MSEE ’84, PhD EE ’87

In recognition of his pioneering contributions to wireless communications with over 100 patents, his entrepreneurship, and his highly sought-after technical expertise.

Theodore “Ted” S. Rappaport has literally and figuratively been to the mountaintop, in his career and on his own mountain, and credits Purdue with his success. He is a pioneer and entrepreneur in wireless communications, a field in which he has demonstrated extraordinary leadership.

Rappaport is the David Lee/Ernst Weber Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly). He holds appointments as professor of computer science at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University, and professor of radiology at the New York University School of Medicine.

He has met a U.S. president; been granted or filed over 100 patents; advised hundreds of students; and authored best-selling textbooks considered the seminal source materials in his field.

Rappaport is currently working on the future of wireless communications, building the first center in academia to bring together wireless engineers, computer scientists, and medical doctors. The objective is to bring wireless into its renaissance and change the whole form factor of computers, datacenters, and the office of the future. “It’s very exciting. I have some ideas, but NYU WIRELESS should exceed even my expectations.”

Rappaport attributes his success to his time at Purdue. “Purdue changed my life in so many ways. I met the love of my life there (wife Brenda). I was fortunate to be one of the first graduate students on Purdue’s National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center (ERC). I helped write the proposal that got Purdue one of five centers awarded. President Reagan came to campus to give the award. My master’s thesis used in this project was on display. President Reagan said, ‘Nice job, son.’ That’s when I knew I wanted to be an academic. We had gone from an idea to the president of the United States coming to fund dozens of graduate students.”

Purdue professors inspired Rappaport to write textbooks because they wrote the textbooks he learned from. “Books are neat accomplishments, but they’re an outgrowth of what I learned as a Purdue student, lessons learned from Purdue professors.”

Rappaport served as the William and Bettye Nowlin Chair in Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and the founding director of the school’s Wireless Networking and Communications Group Center in 2002. From 1988 to 2002, he was on the electrical and computer engineering faculty at Virginia Tech, founding the Mobile and Portable Radio Research Group (MPRG), one of the world’s first university research and teaching centers dedicated to wireless communications.

His love for radio began at the age of five with his grandfather’s Philco antique shortwave radio. “We went there when I was a kid. He spent hours with me tuning around, listening to Morse code and ship-to-shore. Since then, I’ve been fascinated by wireless. My grandmother gave me that radio; my wife had it restored.” He bought a mountaintop for his ham radio passion, where he “loves to experiment with antennas and climb my towers,” always seeking the next mountain to conquer. 

Career Highlights

2012-present David Lee/Ernst Weber Chaired Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, NYU-Poly, and Professor of Computer Science (Courant) and Radiology (Medical School) of NYU
2002-11 University of Texas at Austin, Nowlin Chair in Engineering
1995-2005 Chairman and CEO of Wireless Valley Communications, Inc.
1989-93 Chairman and CEO TSR Technologies, Inc.
1988-2002 Virginia Tech, Professor and Director Mobile/Portable Radio Group
1987 PhD EE, Purdue University
1984 MSEE, Purdue University
1982 BSEE, Purdue University