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Home > About > History


A brief history of wireless communications and networking innovations at Notre Dame.

The Wireless Institute (WI) was established in January 2010 to leverage Notre Dame’s extensive experience, tackle important interdisciplinary problems, and broaden the University’s impact on the world. WI engages faculty from the departments of electrical engineering, computer science and engineering, sociology, and finance. Building from its solid foundation in wireless technology innovations, the Wireless Institute is helping Notre Dame to understand the bigger wireless picture, to identify major challenges, to develop strategic relationships and collaborations in the space, and to generate major new research funding and visibility.

Jerome Green
Jerome Green
In 1899, University of Notre Dame Professor Jerome Green sent one of the first successful long­-distance wireless transmissions in the United States. He transmitted it from the Notre Dame campus to Saint Mary’s College. Since that time, telecommunications and the Internet have become two of the most important sectors of the national and global economies, with wireless technologies contributing significantly to both of these sectors and affecting communication, education, health care, entertainment, public safety, military, and the government. In parallel with these developments, Notre Dame has been growing its expertise and international recognition in wireless communications and networking technologies.

James L. Massey
James L. Massey
A major boost to Notre Dame's international visibility in communication systems occurred in 1962 when James L. Massey returned to his alma mater as a faculty member after earning a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.).  Much of Dr. Massey's research at Notre Dame was supported by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and led to such innovations as the "quick-look-in" convolutional codes that are still used in deep-space systems with sequential decoding and the optimum frame synchronization technique whose extra gain was an essential ingredient for the downlink communications system used to relay pictures taken of Halley's comet. Among the honors that he received at Notre Dame, was the 1969 Professor Thomas Madden Award for distinguished teaching of freshmen. Dr. Massey became interested in random-access communications in 1977-78 when he spent a year at M.I.T. This led eventually to his 1985 paper, "The Collision Channel without Feedback," co-authored with Peter Mathys, which received the 1987 IEEE W.R.G. Baker Award.  Dr. Massey also won the 1992 IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal 'For contributions to the theory and practical implementation of forward-error- correcting codes, multi-user communications, and cryptographic systems; and for excellence in engineering education,' and is a Fellow of the IEEE and a member of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, and the European Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Daniel J. Costello, Jr.
Daniel J. Costello, Jr.
Massey's legacy was renewed and even expanded by one of his early Ph.D. students, Daniel J. Costello, Jr., who became Professor of Electrical Engineering in 1985, served as Chair of Electrical Engineering from 1989 to 1998, and was named Leonard Bettex Chair Professor in 2000. He received his Ph.D. from Notre Dame in 1969 and was a faculty member at Illinois Institute of Technology for many years.  In his leadership roles at Notre Dame, Costello was instrumental in hiring three senior faculty and two junior faculty in the communications area, who along with him founded the Wireless Institute.  He is best known as a co-author of the widely-used textbook "Error Control Coding: Fundamentals and Applications", which was originally published in 1983 and updated to a second edition in 2004.  Costello is an IEEE Fellow and has received the Humboldt Research Prize in 1999 from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in German, the IEEE Third Millennium Medal in 2000, and the IEEE Donald G. Fink Prize Paper Award for the outstanding survey paper of which he was a co-author during the previous year.

Today, the Wireless Institute team of faculty cover a broad range of expertise including antennas; radio frequency (RF) circuits and devices; signal processing and error control coding; network modeling, protocols, and optimization; and mobile applications. Expertise in economics and regulatory policy is also being developed.