Acoustics  Interviews


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dotWhat to Expect

How does that sound? That's what acoustics students are always asking themselves. To find the answer, they draw on principles from many different fields, such as engineering, physics and music.

Most students enter acoustics from another field. Brad Gover started off with a bachelor's degree in physics and applied mathematics.

He went on to get a master's degree, specializing in audio research. For his PhD research, he studied room acoustics to see if he could improve the way microphones pick up speech.

Acoustics first struck a chord in him while he was playing in a band in high school. "I became fascinated with equipment, performance, recording and production. I was spending the majority of my free time learning about audio and acoustics," he says.

Paul Pedersen took a bachelor's degree in applied physics at Kettering University. He chose acoustics noise and vibration as his minor. He studied things like:

  • Structural acoustics: sound that comes from vibrating structures
  • Boundary value problems: math problems that model how boundaries affect waves
  • Digital signal processing (DSP): analyzing different spectrums of frequencies using electronic equipment

"Acoustics grows on you," says Pedersen. "At first the information seemed enlightening and informative. It became inspiring and intriguing. Now it's useful. The more I got to know about sound vibration, the more I wanted to know."

How to Prepare

Pedersen recommends taking math, calculus and physics courses.

"Strong computer skills, such as those introduced in computer studies or computer science classes, are also indispensable," says Gover.

Both Gover and Pedersen recommend taking music. "Band or choir helps a student appreciate some applications of acoustics," says Pedersen.

Getting involved in other activities can also help. "Anything to do with performance or recording of music or theater, use of audio-visual equipment, or use of computers for music production or recording or for sound processing would be a tremendous asset," says Gover.

In general, says Pedersen, "any courses or activity that focuses on critical thinking -- picking apart a topic or idea until you can be sure that it will work or it will fail," will be valuable in future acoustics studies.