Sound and vibration engineers celebrate center’s success

October 4, 2012
By Christine Urbowicz

It began in 1969 when NASA came to NC State looking for engineers trained to solve complex sound and vibration problems in aerospace applications and other areas. NC State responded by creating the Center for Acoustical Studies, funded under a grant from NASA for what it called the “Graduate Traineeship in Aerospace Acoustics.”

Almost 45 years later, more than 50 alumni and professors of the center and the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering gathered at NC State this weekend for the center’s first reunion. They visited Centennial Campus, which did not exist when the program began, as well as other new facilities and labs on campus. The reunion included a social hour Saturday night at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Durham.

“The reunion was the idea of several alumni who thought it would be great to get as many folks together from the ‘old days’ as possible,” says Richard Keltie, an alumnus of the program and associate dean for graduate programs and research in the College of Engineering.“Most of the original faculty have either left or retired, so this event is an attempt to get as many as possible back together.”

Almost 100 graduates have studied in the areas of sound and vibration since the program was first established. Those attending the event graduated from NC State in the 1960’s and 1970’s, when the Center for Acoustical Studies’ activities were at its peak.

The alumni who have been trained in the disciplines of vibrations and acoustics have had a variety of careers, including jobs in the electrical utility industry, at NASA, at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and in noise control for Burlington Industries and General Electric.

Franklin D. Hart was the center’s first director before going on to hold several leadership roles as NC State’s provost and vice chancellor for research. The center’s name was later changed to the Center for Sound and Vibration to reflect the interest in both sound and vibration.

When the Center was its most active, most of the research was funded by the Environmental Protection Agency due to the effects of industrial and transportation noise on human hearing. The research focus eventually shifted to computational acoustics, flow noise, jet noise and signal processing.

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