Acoustic Grads Tie for Top Spot in National Competition 

Christopher Beers (left) and
Erik Miller-Klein (right)
Two recent CETA graduates, Christopher Beers ‘06
and Erik Miller-Klein ’06, tied for first place in a
national student design competition that was held this month at the 121st Audio Engineering Society
meeting in San Francisco.

The competition was held in two stages. Initially, design submissions were sent in from schools nationwide, and were judged on the basis of a five-page project summary (with no school names) by engineers employed in the audio field. The top three undergraduate designs were invited to the San Francisco conference to present as finalists, live, before the same judges.

Beers’ and Miller-Klein’s timely project examined how the sound of the human voice is affected by the location of microphones in today’s small cell phones and Bluetooth devices.

As recently as five-to-10 years ago, most telephone microphones were situated in front of the mouth. The recent paradigm shift to smaller cell phones and hands-free (Bluetooth) devices now places the microphone in locations along the cheek, and even in the external ear. Mapping how the human voice changes as it travels out of the mouth and around the head to these new microphone locations formed the basis for Beers’ and Miller-Klein’s study.

Their project involved designing, building, and using a tiny array of microphones that were suspended off the cheeks of 30 different student volunteers, who each read a list of sentences that contained all the phonemes (speech sounds) of the English language. The array was also tested with three different Head and Torso Simulators (HATS), which resemble mannequins used in the design of telephone devices.

Beers graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, majoring in acoustics and music, this past May. The native of Chesterland, Ohio, is now attending the graduate program in acoustics at The Pennsylvania State University.

Miller-Klein graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with an acoustics concentration. He has accepted a position with SSA Acoustics, an acoustical consulting company located in his hometown of Seattle, Wash.

Doing well in national design competitions isn’t new to the University’s acoustics program. Doug Wilcox ‘05 and Mark Wilcox ‘05 tied for second place in a national design competition sponsored by the Acoustical Society of America in 2005; Denise Miller ‘03 won the Newman Medal in Acoustics in 2003; and Jessica Newton ‘01 and Byron Harrison ‘01 won a national Architectural Acoustics design competition in 2001.

Posted: 10/26/2006