Bell Labs Fellow—That Has a Nice Ring to It

Missing Dek

“In sixth grade, I ran an antenna wire around my classroom,” Walter Honcharenko (’89, ’90, ’93) recalls. “My teacher thought I was crazy, but we were able to receive an AM news broadcast on a crystal radio wound on an oatmeal container. Later, in high school, I was the one in the background at the one and only school radio station in NYC, WHIL Radio 680 on the AM dial turning the knobs and fixing the turntables.”

Honcharenko has moved well out of the background since then. In November 2013, he was front and center at the ceremony celebrating the new class of Bell Lab Fellows and being feted for his major contributions to the company’s radio and power amplifier technology and architecture.

Being named a Bell Labs Fellow is a rare honor; only a handful are chosen each year, and the selection process is lengthy and exhaustive. The multi-page form submitted by his enthusiastic nominator includes the assertion that Honcharenko “is widely recognized as THE expert in the area of digital pre-distortion and radio signal processing not only in the company but in the industry at large” and concludes, “Perhaps the highest compliment one can pay Walter is that he is a ‘blue-collar’ PhD; that is, not only does he possess a brilliant theoretical technical background, but he also knows how to apply it in working with ‘real-world’ products.”

His alma mater, Honcharenko acknowledges, provided the launch pad that allowed him to soar in his field. “I was accepted to many Ivy League schools, but ultimately decided on [what was then known as] Brooklyn Poly,” he said during his acceptance speech. “It was close to home and low cost, and they had a reputation for post-WWII radar and radio research. Little did I know I would have Henry Bertoni, Bernard Cheo, Athanasois Papoulis, Leopold Felson, and Theodor Tamir as my professors . . . all those engineering textbooks on communication theory and electromagnetics were written by these guys!”

His fans at Alcatel-Lucent might argue that Honcharenko is writing the book on technical achievement and being a vital asset to your company.