Brian G. Kiernan '70: NCE Outstanding Alumnus

Brian J. Kiernan '70

Brian G. Kiernan, the retired vice president and chief scientist of InterDigital Communications, LLC, possesses a dynamic combination of technical expertise and leadership savvy that has fueled his outstanding achievements in the development of computer and communication standards. He received a B.S. in electrical engineering from Newark College of Engineering in 1970, and an M.S. in management science/operations research from Fairleigh Dickinson University. 

Kiernan, who will be recognized at the 2016 NCE Salute to Engineering Excellence for his achievements since graduation, was directly responsible for InterDigital’s worldwide industry standards activities and aided in the development of new market, product and technology initiatives. In this capacity, he provided strategic technical and marketing support to InterDigital’s sales, marketing and business development efforts as well as the company’s worldwide patent and licensing programs.

Previously, Kiernan was president of USTC World Trade Corporation, an international sales and marketing subsidiary of InterDigital’s predecessor company, International Mobile Machines (IMM). Having full profit and loss accountability for IMM’s international business, he quadrupled international revenues in two years and opened new markets—primarily in Asia and Latin America—that accounted for over 90 percent of InterDigital’s past product revenue.

Prior to his sales position, Kiernan was IMM’s vice president of Engineering and Operations. His product line responsibilities covered all areas of development and sales engineering, manufacturing, product support and quality assurance of IMM’s UltraPhone® TDMA Wireless Local Loop product.

Before joining IMM, Kiernan served as a senior staff engineer at GTE Products Corporation, where he generated and evaluated military communications systems concepts that included mobile and fixed station radio, circuit and message switching, and network management and control. Kiernan also served as Vice Chair of the ATIS Wireless Technologies and Systems Committee Radio Access Networks (WTSC-RAN) subcommittee, the North American Partner of 3GPP.

Kiernan’s prior program and technical management experience encompassed TDMA and CDMA voice and data systems, digital and analog switching, and VHF/UHF and microwave radio. He was also active in both communications and non-communications Electronic Warfare systems development. He has been a speaker at numerous industry conferences, published numerous papers and articles, and holds 20 patents.

As Vice-Chair of the IEEE 802.16 Working Group on Broadband Wireless Access, Chair of the IEEE 802.16a Task Group on Broadband Wireless Access for Bands from 2-11 GHz, Chair of the IEEE 802.16e Task Group on Mobile Broadband Wireless Access and Chair of the IEEE 802.16m Task Group on Mobile Broadband Wireless Access-Advanced Air Interface, Kiernan shepherded the development of the world’s first 4th Generation Mobile Wireless Standard. For these efforts, he was awarded the IEEE Standards Medallion in 2006 and the IEEE Hans Karlsson Award in 2013 for his extraordinary skill and dedication in chairing the complex task groups that developed the IEEE 802.16a, 802.16e, and 802.16m WirelessMAN standards, including the world's first 4G broadband wireless standard. The Hans Karlsson Award honors outstanding skills and dedication to diplomacy, team facilitation and joint achievement in the development of standards in the computer industry.

An active alumnus of NJIT, Kiernan is a charter member of the Interdisciplinary Design Studio (IDS) External Advisory Board, and chairs the Undergraduate Research and Innovation (URI) External Advisory Board, comprised of business leaders who have taken a personal and professional interest in the student teams. In addition, he has co-sponsored a small group of NJIT students for summer research under the IDS program that helped them to develop entrepreneurial skills. He also serves on the ECE Department’s Industry Advisory Board.

Kiernan, who says that he is “surprised and honored” to be named a 2016 NCE Outstanding Alumnus, recalls that his NJIT degree taught him how to “think critically—especially in the nontechnical areas which, at the time, included required courses in labor relations and personnel, industrial management, capitalism and macro-economics.”

What advice would he give to students planning a similar career path?

“The same advice I give them when I speak in ECE 101,” Kiernan said. “External events will affect you far more than you realize. Choose your friends and colleagues well, as they will have a huge impact on your career; and Don’t let yourself get bogged down with excruciatingly detailed plans; it is far more important to stay flexible.”

By Christina Crovetto
crovetto@njit.edu