Thanks to a fourth-year engineering group's Capstone project, the Centre for Engineering Innovation’s (CEI) room 2101 is now acoustically improved, allowing students to listen to echo-free presenters and lectures.
Mechanical engineering student Spencer West and his team of Celena Lazzarin, Matthew Brisson, Evan Freeman-Gibb, and Michael Keegan were among 50 student groups whose Capstone presentations -the pinnacle of an engineering student's academic career- were showcased during a Friday's event at the CEI.
Under the supervision of engineering professor Colin Novak and technician Andy Jenner, West says his team was assigned to design, construct, and install acoustic panels in the CEI room to mitigate unwanted noise.
The team's panels, made of rock soil mineral wool sound insulation and acoustically transparent fabric with wood frames, absorbs and deflects unwanted reflection of a speakers’ voice due to exposed concrete walls.
"It was difficult for students to understand the presenter," says West. "These panels solved the problem, being one of the few solutions available to treat the acoustics of a room."
According to West, the group's design is in alignment with the CEI's overall building theme as the team used recycled, resilient material and locally sourced wood.
The team created a virtual acoustic model of the room prior to installation, and at the suggestion of Vice-President, Planning and Administration Sandra Aversa, they modified the design to allow further testing and modifications.
Dr. Novak says he can now use this room for future teaching opportunities, since students will be able to test it under differing conditions to better understand the effectiveness of acoustic abatements.
The group completed the work with a budget of only $8,000, compared to a fee of $30,000 to $40,000 for sound mitigation by a professional consulting company.
The team said they were happy to create a solution that will have a lasting effect on the building.
"It is nice to have a project that you can see the final product of. It was really satisfying to walk into the room and see the night and day difference between the untreated room next door and our room," says West.