Marconi Society Celestini Program

After experiments carried out between 1894 and 1895 in the “Silkworm Room” in the attic of Villa Griffone, Guglielmo Marconi connected a grounded antenna to its transmitter. With this apparatus, the young inventor was able to transmit radiotelegraphic signals beyond a physical obstacle, the Celestini hill, at a distance of about two kilometers. The experiment heralded the birth of the era of wireless communication.

The Marconi Society Celestini Program is aimed at stimulating the same intellectual curiosity among students of telecommunications in nations classified as developing. The name has multiple elements of significance within this context, apart from the obvious connection to Marconi.

– Potential. Overcoming the small physical obstacle of a hill was the precursor to overcoming the oceans separating continents. Small steps are the often the beginnings of grand legacies.

– Blue sky. Blue sky thinking refers to creative ideas that are not limited by current thinking or beliefs. Celestino in Italian can refer to the blue sky (confirm). It is very appropriate for the creativity we are looking to tap into in the students we mentor.

We aim to achieve this by selecting promising university age, telecommunications/engineering students across the developing world, and providing them with support and mentorship to help tap their true potential.

Celestini Prize

Bell Labs and the Marconi Society sponsored the ‘Symposium on Transformative Digital Technologies’ on February 3 in Kampala, Uganda, as a culmination of the 2015 Celestini program. ‘Future Networks’ was the theme of the event, which was the largest ICT event of the area for the past 5 years. The highlight was the Celestini Prize, which “honors the demonstration of innovation and blue-sky thinking in developing a telecom-based solution to a socioeconomic challenge” selected by a panel that included Bob Tkach, Guilhem de Valicourt and Joseph Kakande from Bell Labs, as well as other local judges.

The Marconi Society has long recognized the many seminal contributions of Bell Labs in Communications Technologies: nine current or former Bell Labs researchers have received the prestigious Marconi Prize, and another three the Marconi Lifetime Achievement award, one of whom was Claude Shannon. The symposium in Kampala was a result of both organizations’ interests in deploying the power of information and communications networks to solving global ‘human need’ problems. The Celestini program has been lauded by many communications luminaries including Vint Cerf, Google Chief Internet Evangelist and co-inventor of TCP/IP, reiterating the credit it reflects on both Bell Labs & the Marconi Society.



Recognizing the academic achievements and leadership in the field of communications and information science of young individuals who demonstrates exceptional class ranking, demonstrated research capabilities, entrepreneurial spiritĀ and commitment to advancing “science for the benefit of humanity.” These are ideals that fit perfectly with the objectives of the Marconi Society.


Connecting with some of the most sought-after mentors in the world, Marconi Fellows. Marconi Fellows include an elite list of individuals whose work set the stage for modern telecommunications and the Internet, from Nobel Prize-winning physicists Arthur Schawlow and Sir Charles Kao to Internet pioneers Robert Kahn, Paul Baran, Vint Cerf and Leonard Kleinrock, World Wide Web creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee, science visionary Arthur C. Clarke, and Ethernet inventor Robert M. Metcalfe. More recent winners have included Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, DSL modem inventor John Cioffi, encryption pioneers Martin Hellman, Whitfield Diffie and Ron Rivest, turbo-code inventor Claude Berrou, fiber optic pioneers Robert Tkach and Andrew Chraplyvy (currently with Bell Labs) and wireless luminaries Andrew Viterbi, Irwin Jacobs (Qualcomm founder), Henry Samueli (Broadcom founder), and Martin Cooper (invention of the mobile phone), among others.


Young Scholars make a commitment to remain involved in our organization, to attend future events, and to help us reach out and motivate other exceptional young scholars.