Kenneth Brayer (MS’65, Electrical Engineering) made contributions to the field of electrical engineering that stretch far beyond his prolific work in communications, computing, and networking. Brayer, who passed away on January 24, 2015, at the age of 73, will be remembered for his scientific achievements and his work as a mentor throughout his professional career.
A New York City native, Brayer was a graduate of Stuyvesant High School, the City College of New York, and Columbia Engineering. After receiving his master’s degree in electrical engineering, he worked at MITRE, specializing in networking and distributed systems, until his retirement in 2002.
Brayer’s pioneering research provided some of the key creative advances that shaped the information age. Notably, he designed the first reentrant computer learning system (a form of artificial intelligence), developed concepts for low and medium Earth orbit satellite networks, and designed the largest military computer communications network of its time. He was also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, becoming an IEEE Fellow in 1990.
Brayer was associated with numerous universities as an instructor, thesis adviser, and consultant. In the words of his work associate Linsey O’Brien: “From his own experience, Ken knew the value of education and shared it. His advice to colleagues on the value of education was as appreciated as his major contributions to the field of engineering.”
At Columbia, his legacy will continue in the form of an electrical engineering professorship. The Kenneth Brayer Professorship of Electrical Engineering will ensure that his contributions as a lifelong scholar, researcher, and teacher will have a lasting impact.