This year, Acentech is participating in the inaugural year of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) Summer Undergraduate Research or Internship in Acoustics (SURIEA) program. The program includes hands-on research or internship experience, working closely with a mentor in acoustics. Acentech’s Kelsey Rogers was selected as a mentor for the SURIEA program; we sat down with her to ask a few questions about the program.
Q: Can you tell us about the ASA SURIEA program, and a bit of background on its importance to the field of acoustics?
A: SURIEA is an intensive 12-week summer program designed to expose underrepresented students of color to the field of acoustics. This is the inaugural year for the program, and it received tremendous interest from students, researchers, and professionals across the country who recognize the importance of increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in acoustics. This work is long overdue, but the SURIEA program makes a significant step forward in progress toward this goal.
Q: How did Acentech become involved with the SURIEA program?
A: Many of us at Acentech are involved with the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), and we were all thrilled about the opportunity as soon as we heard about it. Our internal EDI working group has been striving to expand and rethink Acentech’s recruitment and hiring processes, to connect with students, and to strengthen our training and mentorship practices. SURIEA is an outstanding opportunity to make progress toward all three of these goals.
Q: How did the ASA select mentors for this program?
A: Mentors applied to participate in the program by answering questions about their background, profession, mentorship experience, and commitment to improving equity, diversity and inclusion in the field of acoustics. The mentor selection process was competitive, and the SURIEA program coordinators were intent on representing many different fields and career opportunities within acoustics, ranging from academic researchers in auditory perception, to marine bioacousticians, to consultants in building acoustics like myself. They also strived to select mentors who represented the kind of diversity that we would like to see in the future of the field.
Q: How many mentee applicants did the SURIEA program receive?
A: The ASA received over 170 undergraduate student applicants and accepted 15 participants! This overwhelming interest indisputably proves that talent and interest are not in short supply. It is an overdue wakeup call to everyone in the industry that we need to take a more active role in providing mentorship and access to opportunities in acoustics to these wonderful students. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it represents an incredible growth opportunity for an infusion of new, brilliant ideas and perspectives.
Q: With an increased awareness on racial inequity in the field of acoustics, how does the ASA fund and promote the SURIEA program?
A: SURIEA has been funded primarily by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) Diversity Action Fund, the ASA, and the ASA Foundation Fund. To sustain and grow this vital program in the years to come, I believe that the ASA will be looking to engage with partners in industry and academia for funding support. All of us at Acentech are eager to participate in this evolution.
Q: What benefits will you (and/or Acentech) get from acting as mentor(s) in this program?
A: The benefits of acting as a mentor are immeasurable, both for me personally, and for Acentech as a company. In addition to making progress toward the goals that I mentioned above, mentoring a student is a tremendous opportunity to learn material in a new way. Teaching forces us to rethink the subject from all different angles. I’m fortunate to experience this each year when I teach an Architectural Acoustics class to students at Tufts University, and the SURIEA program is an excellent opportunity to be able to focus on one student. Acentech’s mentee, Efraín, started his internship at the beginning of June, and we are already benefitting in many different ways from his participation on our team.
Q: What benefits will the mentee get after having completed this 12-week program?
A: Our primary goal is to expose Efraín to the field of architectural acoustics through opportunities to collaborate on project work and a summer-long research project related to the acoustical simulation of a flexible recital hall. Along the way, we are seeking opportunities for Efraín to meet and work with as many Acentech team members as possible and learn a bit about other aspects of our broad range of work.