Jean Lebel majored in Radio Engineering at École Supérieure d'Électricité in France in the late 1940s. After graduating from that institution he went on to get a Master’s Degree at Harvard in Applied Physics. He then moved first to MIT he held research positions at the Servomechanism and Acoustic Laboratories, and then to the Schlumberger Well-Surveying Corporation. After he returned to Europe around 1959 his work focused on developing devices to detect and locate nuclear explosions.
Lebel began his relationship with IEEE (or more properly, its predecessor IRE) as a student at École Supérieure d'Électricité in France and read the publication, Proceedings of IRE. After returning to Europe, he continued to develop IRE’s presence in Europe. He helped in the founding of the French and Switzerland Sections in 1961 and 1960 respectively. After the the IRE made the transition to IEEE, he served as the Region 8 Director from 1965-1966. In this role he traveled to all the sections and started the participation of Region 8 in the Student Paper Contest.