Leo L. Beranek

National Medal of Science

Engineering

For his leadership, dedication, and contributions to the art and science of acoustics; for co-founding one of the world's foremost acoustical research and consulting firms; and for sustained contributions to scientific societies and civic organizations.

For his leadership, dedication, and contributions to the art and science of acoustics; for co-founding one of the world's foremost acoustical research and consulting firms; and for sustained contributions to scientific societies and civic organizations.

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Birth
September 15, 1914
Age Awarded
88
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
ARPANET
Pioneered Study of Acoustics
Awarded by
George W. Bush
Education
Cornell University
Harvard University
Areas of Impact
Energy & Environment
Affiliations
BBN Technologies
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Though it feels now like fate, Leo Beranek's remarkable career in acoustic engineering started with a stroke of luck: He withdrew his tuition money for college just one day before the bank failed and lost the remainder of his funds. This early fortune at the height of the Great Depression set the stage for a long and rewarding career as a professor and engineer. After developing an interest in radios as a child, Beranek began tinkering with the technology in high school, and continued to explore this interest in college. Post-graduation, he sought to expand this study of acoustics and went on to attain his doctorate in acoustical engineering from Harvard University in 1940.

At Harvard, Beranek managed the university’s electro-acoustics laboratory, designing noise-reduction systems for WWII aircraft. Later, Beranek became a Professor of Communications Engineering at MIT and shifted focus to his lifelong interest in music. He soon became world-renowned for his innovations in the acoustics of concert halls and travelled internationally to research and advise on the subject. He ultimately published two seminal textbooks on acoustics and fundamentally changed the way we experience live music today.

​By Sara Grossman

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