Clinton R. Fleming wins Leo Beranek Student Medal for Excellence in the Study of Noise Control

The Institute of Noise Control Engineering initiated a new highly selective student award in 2011, called the Leo Beranek Student Medal for Excellence in the Study of Noise Control. Clinton R. Fleming was presented the award during the May 2011 Commencement Ceremonies, during which he also received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree with a Concentration in Acoustics.

Clint received the medal for his work on the process of developing an objective acoustical monitoring system to be used with laser & electrode drills. The operating temperatures of modern turbine engines actually operate above the melting point of the metal blades. Hundreds of small holes are drilled into each blade to cool them by convection to an operable temperature. The holes are created with strict tolerances using either high-powered pulsed lasers, or with Electrode Discharge Machining (EDM). However, a hole must often be drilled through one side of a hollow part without damaging the other side. Drilling for too long a period of time can damage the inside of a channeled turbine blade. Conversely, drilling for too short a period can produce an ineffective hole. Anecdotally, machinists have reported that they hear a distinct change in the acoustic character of the drilling sound when breakthrough has occurred.

Mr. Fleming worked on the process of developing an objective acoustical monitoring system a summer internship at the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT) in East Hartford, CT. The system utilized an acoustic detection system, wherein a microphone monitored the tapping sound of the laser pulses and through subsequent spectral analysis the system determined when hole breakthrough had been achieved. During the following fall, Clint continued this work in developing an acoustic breakthrough system for EDM drilling as part of his senior capstone project, which involved identifying the unique spectral character of the pulses in the presence of cooling water background noise. These elements were key for adapting the acoustic detection algorithm developed during the summer. CCAT has been very complementary in their praise of Clint’s work, and has already begun the process of commercializing the approach with actual manufacturing processes.

Clint Fleming came to our program from Columbus, Indiana, and is currently employed in the Acoustics Division of Electric Boat Corporation in Groton, CT.

Posted: 2011