Alumni Kaleidoscope: Corbett Ray Rowell - Mphil(ELEC)



Many have no doubt heard of 5G network technology and the game-changing benefits it’ll deliver, but there’s far more to telecommunications than what the headlines can ever tell you. When it comes to pre-eminent authorities in this field, look no further than Corbett Rowell: his career stretches back over two decades, and whether in the realm of commerce, academia or government, Corbett’s left an indelible impact globally.  


Starting with Corbett’s legacy here in Hong Kong, he graduated from HKUST with an MPhil in Electrical Engineering in 1996 and for much of the 2000s, he led the Hong Kong government’s research efforts in antennas and radio frequency (RF) equipment, and oversaw multi-million dollar projects with responsibilities for budgeting, recruiting and fundraising. This was preceded by two separate stints in the corporate world, including founding Integra Antennas in 1998. Corbett’s firm supplied phone antennas to the major mobile phone makers of the day, such as Nokia, Ericsson, Samsung, LG and Sony—an impressive feat for anyone’s start-up, to say nothing of their first venture. 


Corbett’s subsequent work this past decade took him to Beijing and Kazakhstan.  As the research director for China Mobile’s Green Communications Research Center during 2013–2014, his team developed and tested radio and antenna technologies; among these projects was preparing an ecosystem of businesses and universities to deploy 5G networks by 2020. During Corbett’s time in China, he led workshops at top industry events (IEEE MTT, EMC) and was invited to submit papers to the IEEE and Wiley Publishing. Corbett then helmed Nazarbayev University’s electrical engineering department; a new university in Kazakhstan, the seasoned veteran built an effective cadre of professors and students in wireless and data communications and established highly-regarded research labs. 


Before heading to Germany for his current post at Rohde and Schwarz, the HKUST MPhil alum returned to his alma mater in 2015 to serve as an adjunct associate professor. In two years, Corbett collaborated with other leading universities in various RF and communications projects; he also mentored and supervised PhD and MPhil students while continuing to publish papers. Corbett is based in Munich now, where he is Rohde and Schwarz’s Senior Development Expert and Project Lead Engineer. He’s tasked with building Germany’s advanced antenna and RF systems; additionally, he’s rolling out base stations and researching compact antenna applications across a range of components.  


Corbett’s accomplishments have won him numerous accolades, including the IEEE Communications 2018 Fred W. Ellersick Prize for best original paper; 2018 Inventor of the Year Rohde & Schwarz; and the 2015 EEE Teacher of the Year at Nazarbayev University. Having spent his entire adult life studying and applying his mastery in communication equipment, millions of people worldwide—if they did some research—will discover Corbett Rowell’s passion has changed their lives for the better.  



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