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Technology for a Quieter America
practice … discourages many potential students while leaving graduates with too little exposure to real-world problems and ethical dilemmas.” The study committee of the present report believes that the promotion of noise control engineering in academia is consistent with the recommendations and visions of both reports, that it would fit the ABET criteria for engineering programs, and that it would serve the needs of related programs, such as physics, architecture, biological sciences, and speech and hearing.
The multidisciplinary nature of noise control engineering poses challenges for engineering practice and for lifelong learning. Typically, employees attempting to solve complex noise control problems must have a rigorous knowledge of noise measurement and signal processing techniques, propagation of noise though air and structures (including acoustic absorption, insulation, damping, and vibration isolation), computational techniques, and psychoacoustics. They may also need additional expertise in specific areas of noise control engineering (e.g., aero-acoustic problems are very different from problems raised by noise from machine elements). Neither undergraduate nor graduate programs are comprehensive, and the need to understand new issues and technologies over time creates a strong demand for continuing education.
Elements of noise control engineering degree programs should be formally taught in an intra- or interdisciplinary way by faculty in academic units (in engineering, physical sciences, and architecture). Major professional societies (such as AIAA, ASME, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Institute of Noise Control Engineering of the USA, SAE). and other stakeholders should organize symposia (or special sessions in regular conferences), where leading academic and industry leaders can propose and refine curricula and suggest improvements in teaching methods and delivery mechanisms. Collaboration among academic, research, and industry leaders will be necessary for the development of interesting case studies or practice modules that could then be disseminated to teachers of undergraduate courses.
Funding is particularly important for research on environmental noise that encourages interdisciplinary collaboration between acousticians, engineers, social scientists, psychologists, sociologists, and health scientists to develop improved metrics for evaluating the impact of noise, including annoyance, speech and communications interference, cognitive impairment, sleep disturbance, and health effects.
A comparison of research activity on environmental noise in Europe, Japan, and the United States clearly reveals that the level of activity in Europe and Japan far exceeds the level in the United States. Substantial funding for research in Europe and Japan has enabled very large scale and many smaller scale studies. An indirect effect of this funding is the number of graduate students in environmental noise being educated in Europe and Japan, which has resulted in widespread understanding of acoustics and environmental problems and helped inform decisions and encouraged the adoption of noise mitigation efforts and appropriate metrics.
Recommendation 9-1: Academic institutions should offer an undergraduate course in noise control engineering, broaden the scope of the engineering curriculum, and increase the pool of engineering graduates who are equipped to design for low-noise emissions. The course could be offered as an elective in a bachelor’s degree program or as part of a minor (e.g., in acoustics or interdisciplinary studies).
Recommendation 9-2: Graduate-level noise control courses should provide a balance between theory and engineering practice without sacrificing academic rigor. The committee strongly encourages the establishment of graduate internships in industry and government agencies and thesis research programs to motivate students and to build a cadre of future noise control engineers.
Recommendation 9-3: Federal agencies, private companies, and foundations with a stake in noise control should provide financial support for graduate students who assist in research on, and the teaching of, noise control engineering. This support is crucial for the development of noise control professionals and noise control educators.
NAE (National Academy of Engineering). 2004. The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Sheppard, S.D., W.M. Sullivan, A. Colby, K.Macatangay, and L.S. Shulman. 2009. Educating Engineers: Designing for the Future of the Field. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.