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Leo L. Beranek

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Biography

For over seven decades, Leo L. Beranek has made impactful contributions to acoustics and engineering as a scientist, author, teacher, and as an innovative leader of academia, scientific organizations, industry, and the arts. In 1948, Beranek and Richard Bolt founded Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. (BBN), a high-tech company with roots as an acoustical consulting firm that evolved into an important contributor of computer innovations. Under Beranek’s leadership, BBN pioneered the development of ARPANET, which was the precursor to today’s Internet. Known for a keen ability to recognize and engage the best talent for the task at hand, Beranek brought to BBN leaders in acoustics, artificial intelligence, computer science, and underwater sound. Beranek’s work on voice communications during World War II earned him recognition from President Harry S. Truman. His accomplishments with BBN include designing the sound system for the United Nations General Assembly Hall. He developed noise standards for jet airplanes during the 1950s that required planes to implement noise-reducing mufflers and alter take-off flight patterns. He helped set the standards for acceptable noise levels in office buildings, schools, and factories. Beranek also served as acoustical design consultant for concert halls and opera houses around the world, including the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall, praised on the front page of the New York Times (April 18, 2000) as "an acoustical miracle."

An IEEE Life Fellow, Beranek’s honors include gold medals from the Acoustical Society of America (1975) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (2004) and the U.S. National Medal of Science (2003). In 2013 he received the IEEE Founders Medal "For leadership as a co-founder of a premier consulting firm that shaped modern acoustical practice and laid the groundwork for the Internet, and for public service." Beranek is the founder (retired) of Bolt Beranek and Newman (now Raytheon BBN Technologies), Cambridge, MA, USA.