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I may not have grown up to become a star pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, as I dreamed, but I’ve led many teams to victory.
As the engineering and science lead for the firm’s Navy work, I’m finding novel ways to tap into wireless, unmanned vehicle, and virtual technologies, assembling and managing a squad of the best and brightest engineers to push the boundaries of innovation.
My past work includes innovative defenses against improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, saving many U.S. soldiers’ lives in the Iraq War.
Brian Abbe co-leads the firm’s rapid prototyping and platform integration initiative, focusing on research and development programs within the Army communications, command and control, computers, intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) business. Brian helps our clients solve tough problems facing warfighters, such as defeating improvised explosive devices and triangulating enemy combatant signals.
Previously, he was senior leader of our C4ISR business located in the Red Bank, New Jersey, office. He played a wide variety of roles of increasing responsibility across a variety of contracts including technology engineering fabrication operations support, engineering technology operations support service, strategic servicing sources, and rapid reaction third generation. He was responsible for building a number of electronic intercept and electronic attack systems that are currently used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Brian joined our firm in 1998 as an associate, and has more than 22 years of professional experience in intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance, mobile satellite, and wireless system technologies and networks.
Prior to joining the firm, Brian worked for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. While at JPL, Brian helped develop a wide variety of mobile satellite and wireless technologies and systems, including early research and development versions of satellite television (e.g., DirecTV), satellite radio, and various emerging wireless internet technologies.
Brian holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from Rutgers University College of Engineering and an M.S. in electrical engineering from Rutgers University Graduate School. He has published more than two dozen conference and journal technical articles in his career.
How did you come to have the career that you have?
Before I was with Booz Allen I worked for NASA in California in the Jet Propulsion Lab. I spent a decade working on some leading-edge systems in satellite communications and wireless Internet. A lot of the technologies I was working on back in 1990 and 1991 and 1992 didn’t exist. A lot of the work that I did then, I can see the benefits across the country and across the world. That got me wanting to come up with unique solutions to solve problems. When I joined Booz Allen in 1998, I took that knowledge and that desire and drive to do similar work with my first set of clients in the Army. I spent a lot of years helping the Army solve problems, like IEDs. I take great pride in the fact that we put about 45,000 to 50,000 boxes out on Humvees and other Army vehicles that rendered IEDs useless and saved a lot of lives. That has continued to drive me into other unique solutions for other clients.
What has been your biggest accomplishment?
When we first went into Iraq, IEDs were killing and maiming soldiers at many dozens per week. Through a lot of the work that I did with a larger team, we were able to come up with these boxes that rendered IEDs close to null and void. Over the course of about two years the number of IED incidents that occurred in Iraq went down by more than 90 percent.
What makes you most passionate about your work at Booz Allen?
I think it’s two things. People-wise, I want to give new opportunities for the team. The other thing is getting to know more and more of our clients and understanding their problems. I think one of my strengths is sitting with these clients and listening to them and having them open up to me about, ‘This is the hard problem that is keeping me up at night.’ Over the years I’ve been good about coming up with novel solutions to those types of problems.
How do you keep on top of the most up-to-date technology so you can deliver these solutions?
One of the most important things for a person in a position like mine is to keep up to date on technology. For me, the easiest way to keep current is bringing in young, bright engineers, making teams out of them, actively working with them. I attend conferences, too, but I find working with the teams and understanding their problems is the best way to stay up to date and current.
What is the most influential book you’ve read?
When I was younger, I read a bunch of books around baseball, like The Art of Hitting .300 by Charlie Lau. Charlie was a hitting instructor at the major league level. He wound up teaching George Brett how to hit. Brett was probably a below-average to average baseball player. What resonated with me was through hard work and proper training, Charlie Lau got everything he possibly could out of this guy and he wound up being more at the end of the day. I think that is one of the principles that I carry with me to this day in everything I do. If you work really hard and you do things in a smart way, there is very little that you can’t accomplish.
What is your most prized possession?
My baseball team is the Phillies, and they’ve only won the World Series twice. On my desk, I have two autographed baseballs, one each by the respective pitcher who was on the mound when they won those World Series – Tug McGraw 1980 and Brad Lidge 2008.