Two-time INCE Award Winner Shares His “Secrets” to Success
It’s a wonderful thing to fall in love – to be passionate about a cause, person or career. Many INCE members would say that noise control, for them, is a passion.
This year’s winner of the INCE Student Scholarship and the Martin Hirschorn Award would agree with that sentiment. The 2021 two-time award winner Sunit Girdhar, a Michigan Technological University Ph.D. student, discovered his passion for solving noise control and acoustics challenges at a young age. He believes that noise control and acoustics are important because they impact the daily lives of every human on the planet.
Both awards were for his project to improve reproducibility issues related to ASTM standard measurement. Sunit was happy to share more details of his project below along with some secrets to his success.
You recently won not one but two industry awards. What were they for and what’s your secret for success?
I won the inaugural INCE Student Scholarship award and the 2021 Martin Hirschorn IAC Best Student Project Award. The student scholarship is given to a student who has shown the highest potential for performing research benefiting an aspect of architectural acoustics and noise control and promoting its usefulness to society. The Martin Hirschorn prize is awarded to a graduate student who proposes a project related to an application of noise control engineering and/or architectural acoustics.
I received both awards for my project on improving reproducibility issues related to ASTM standard measurement method in small rooms at low-frequencies, especially targeting the low-frequency impact rating. This problem is faced by almost everyone who either works in the acoustical consulting industry or lives in a multi-residential building. My proposed project is to improve the reproducibility of the measurements, especially in non-diffuse sound fields so acousticians can better trust their data. I will be honest, when I started this project, there were times when I thought that this task was too daunting. My secret to success is to take up this task, break it down into smaller not-so-daunting tasks to meet the overall project goals. My advisor, Dr. Andrew Barnard is also undoubtedly one of my secrets to success.
Now for a little information about you. What’s your major and what do you hope to be doing in five years?
I am a Ph.D. student in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Michigan Technological University with a specialization in acoustics and vibration. Five years from now I wish to be leading the task group in ASTM to implement our proposed measurement method as an official test standard. I also see myself as an acoustical consultant since I like problem-solving and talking to people about acoustics.
What sparked your interest in noise control?
My interest in noise control was actually sparked because of vibrations. A couple of years ago, after I graduated with my bachelor's degree in Automotive Engineering, I was working with the Powertrain R&D group with MAN Trucks and Bus, a German company. I was tasked with designing a system to transfer engine power from the crankshaft to the engine cooling fan with a pre-defined gear ratio. I designed a belt drive system that met all the constraints for space, cost, etc. and I wanted to conduct a modal analysis on the assembly to ensure that the assembly will not fail during operation. This is when I started reading into structural vibrations and decided to move to the US to pursue a master's degree with a focus on noise and vibration. Believe it or not, at the time, my dream job was to work as a noise, vibration and harshness engineer with a Formula One team. My first semester at Michigan Tech was full of courses on vibration and it wasn't until the second semester here that I started learning about acoustics and noise control and instantly fell in love. This is a thing that affects every single second of every single person's life. What better way to make an impact in people's lives if not through acoustics!
When you are not going to school, studying, doing research and winning awards, what do you do for fun?
I love the outdoors so every weekend you will find me out and about in the woods. It helps that Michigan Tech is located in the beautiful Upper Peninsula, MI with several beautiful hiking trails around here. I also like to travel to new places and experience their food during my time off.
What value do you get from being part of INCE?
Being a member of INCE is of TREMENDOUS value. Most of the industry connections I have made are through the Internoise/Noisecon conferences organized by INCE, especially the student-specific seminars at these conferences. The conference travel grants and other student awards provide much-needed financial help. I also enjoy the INCE digital library and use it as a way to stay up-to-date with the current research. The job opportunities portal on the INCE website has certainly been helpful too.
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