Plenary Sessions

The NOISE-CON 2024 Organizers are delighted to welcome Bhisham Sharma as our Tuesday plenary speaker. Dr. Sharma will take the place of Brandon Southall. Dr. Southall sends his regreats to the conference, but will be participating in sea trails and cannot attend.

Acquired hearing loss: Are prevention or reversal realistic goals?

Dr. Colleen Le Prell

Dr. Le Prell will review how noise, drugs, and aging cause cell death in the inner ear and introduce the changes in sound-evoked physiological responses, threshold sensitivity, and deficits “beyond the audiogram” that can be measured in clinical and research settings. Hearing-in-noise difficulties and tinnitus are common patient complaints. Although sometimes referred to as “hidden hearing loss”, they are not-so-hidden to either the patient or the audiologist when the appropriate test battery is completed. With increasing attention to both the high prevalence of acquired hearing loss and patient complaints about real-world hearing difficulties has come interest in the potential for treatment using medicines that protect or repair inner ear sensory cells. Tests measures and data from completed and ongoing clinical trials will be reviewed. This is an exciting time in the development of inner ear medicines. There is an active drug discovery pipeline with academic labs and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies seeking to identify and develop medicines that effectively treat auditory complaints using support from government, industry, and venture capital sources.

Colleen Le Prell is the Head of the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing and the Director of the recently launched Clinical Trial Unit at the University of Texas at Dallas, where she holds the Emilie and Phil Schepps Professorship in Hearing Science. Dr. Le Prell has received funding from government, industry, and philanthropic sources for research that programmatically advances the understanding and prevention of noise-induced hearing loss. Dr. Le Prell previously served as President for the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA), currently serves on the CDC-NIOSH National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Hearing Loss Prevention Cross Sector Council, and is an invited participant in the World Health Organization (WHO) “Make Listening Safe” campaign.  She contributes to the peer review process in several Associate Editor roles, and serves on the Auditory System (AUD) Study Section for the National Institutes of Health.

Tall Needle Building Movement Noises, an Innovative Acoustic Solution Set and What We Learned Along the Solution Set Path

Bonnie Schnitta

A tall needle building typically has a height-to-base ratio of 10:1. Recently these tall needle building are constructed with a ratio of 24:1 defying what many once considered to be impossible. To put this into perspective the Empire State Building has a ratio of 3:1. In 2016 my company was hired as an acoustic consultant to solve a noise problem that is common in tall needle buildings - disturbing noises experienced on windy days. The client was renting an apartment on a floor in the 50’s in a tall needle building, while they were building a full-floor residence several floors above. The noises were reported by the client as so “frightening” that they were considering abandoning the construction project of their dream home several floors above. SoundSense engineers took the common first step to engineer a solution set by taking airborne readings in the rental unit on a very windy day. The rental was a newly built residence that used standard construction techniques. After reviewing the airborne readings, it became apparent that there was a dynamic aspect of the source creating the noises that could only be solved by obtaining more than just the airborne 1/3 octave band frequency readings. Accelerometer readings were then taken simultaneously with airborne readings. With this duality of airborne with structure-borne acoustic readings at several heights and locations in the residence, insights into a successful solution set were acquired. A variation to standard rigidly connected structures in the construction, along with some innovative products and product applications, the problem of unique disturbing noises of a tall needle building were solved. This presentation discusses the unique solution set that was used to solve the issue of wind condition noises as experienced in tall needle buildings. Furthermore, this case study will be used to show what was learned that has advanced our own practice of acoustic engineering, especially as it applies to tall needle buildings, or building subject to high wind conditions.

Bonnie Schnitta received her BS in Mathematics from Purdue University. She worked for GE upon graduation, while earning an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts. Following Tufts Ms. Schnitta then pursued a Ph.D. at the University of Miami, while working as a principal on research projects for DARPA, ONR, and DOD at the Institute for Acoustic Research. In 1981 Dr. Schnitta moved to and founded an acoustic engineering firm in East Hampton, New York, drawing on her experience in engineering and academic research in signal processing (inclusive of active noise cancellation). The company evolved into SoundSense LLC, a unique design-build firm that now also includes divisions for her patented concepts developed working in the field for over 40 years, including a full product line and trained installers.

Since 2011 Ms. Schnitta has been awarded nearly 20 patents. The most recent patent is for a flexible, portable acoustic enclosure designed to reduce unwanted noise. Ms. Schnitta has authored numerous published articles on acoustics and holds several trademarks associated with her patents, including the Paradise Effect™, a proprietary algorithm for creating an acoustically correct, soothing environment. Bonnie also supports and mentors women in STEAM, including providing an annual scholarship to a graduating high school woman who is passionate about science. SoundSense and Ms. Schnitta have been the recipients of multiple awards, such as WIPP Innovator of the Year, Stevie Award, Commercial Integrator Best Acoustic Product Award, Tufts University Career Achievement Award, NY Enterprise Report-Best Technology, IWEC, Excite Award, member of fellow status in the Acoustic Society of America and Lifetime member in the IEEE.

Enabling Multifunctionality Acoustical Materials Through Additive Manufacturing

Dr. Bhisham Sharma

Additive manufacturing methods allow for the realization of structural geometries and concepts that cannot be fabricated using traditional manufacturing techniques. Combining these methods with the intentional design of a structure’s underlying geometrical architecture can allow engineers to decouple previously interdependent properties and enable the design of multifunctional structures with mechanical and functional performance tailored to match specific application needs. In this talk, I will summarize current additive methods and present an overview of our recent work exploring the development of novel structures for multifunctional acoustical applications, including the design of acoustic liners for aircraft noise reduction, the fabrication of thin hair-like fibers replicating feathers, airtight inflatable structures, and ceramic structures suitable for engineering applications.

Dr. Sharma joined the department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics as an Associate Professor in August 2023. Prior to joining Michigan Tech, he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Wichita State University. His overall research our goal is to make engineering structures safer, quieter, and more efficient. To achieve this, his research mission is to create new knowledge and address technology challenges at the intersection of structural mechanics, dynamics, and acoustics. At one end, his research focuses on understanding the fundamental mechanics of novel engineered material systems such as acoustic metamaterials, phononic structures, architected lattice structures, and stochastic foams. At the other end of the spectrum, his group focuses on translating this knowledge to create performance-tailored solutions to critical engineering problems across various industries.