Opportunities in Acoustics: The 181st Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA)

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Meeting Notes - SPS Reporters at Science Conferences

Opportunities in Acoustics: The 181st Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA)


Kourtney Libenow, 2020-2021 Associate Zone Councilor Representative to the SPS Executive Committee and SPS Member, Central Washington University

Photo by Hyun Joo Kim, AIP.There I was in Seattle, wide-eyed despite being in a city I had visited many times, having lived in Washington all my life. When I attended the virtual 180th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) the previous year, I discovered the immense scope of opportunities that the field of acoustics provides. The Seattle meeting program, which contained all the presentation abstracts, proved this again. It was 385 pages long using 8- or 9-point font. I was ready, professional outfits and all.

I was excited to network in person but found myself lingering at the student booth, staring at colorful stickers. ASA divides the field of acoustics into 13 areas, and each sticker represented one. There was Engineering Acoustics, Acoustical Oceanography, Animal Bioacoustics, Architectural Acoustics, Physical Acoustics, Psychological and Physiological Acoustics, Signal Processing in Acoustics, Structural Acoustics and Vibration, Biomedical Acoustics, Musical Acoustics, Noise, Speech Communication, and Underwater Acoustics.

I was unsure which sticker to take and considered taking one of each. But I settled for none. I was there to explore research and graduate schools in all of those areas, so I would be open to every possibility.

Wandering out into the crowded third floor before the sessions started, I felt aimless. I’m typically extroverted but was overwhelmed by the vast group of people. I was thankful for Aamna Arshad from SLR Consulting, who initiated a conversation. We talked, and Aamna invited me to listen to a talk regarding rail vibration and sensitive equipment, which I later attended.

I also joined Aamna for a talk by Jerry Lilly from JGL Acoustics, a company based out of Issaquah, Washington. He gave a presentation on the basics of noise and vibration control, specifically related to analyzing and reducing the noise from HVAC ducting. I was interested in the technical details and also excited to hear about job opportunities in the acoustics field so close to home.

In addition to technical presentations and posters, the conference provided hot-topic sessions on COVID-19, multiple workshops and tutorials, technical committee meetings, and a plenary session with awards. There were also special events, including a Women in Acoustics roundtable discussion and even an acoustics jam session!

I met a passionate group of students from The Pennsylvania State University acoustics program, some of whom played a set at the jam session. They encouraged me to join in on future jam sessions, whether that be at Penn State as a graduate student or at a future ASA meeting as colleagues.

While you’re an undergrad, do your best to attend at least one professional meeting within your field. Look into opportunities at your school, within the professional societies, or within SPS National for relevant meetings and funding assistance. You’re likely to meet future colleagues and good friends, discover graduate schools and career possibilities, and possibly decide on your future career goals! //

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Meeting Notes - SPS Reporters at Science Conferences