Q&A with Acentech’s Dream Team Interns
Our technical and marketing interns play an important role here at Acentech. They learn from us, we learn from them, and we are all enriched by the experience.
The technical interns assist us in numerous ways: with acoustics field measurements, processing acoustic and vibration data, furthering our research, serving our clients, and assisting with internal office tasks.
Acoustics and Noise/Vibration group interns this year include Srinivasa-Rao Ippili (SRI), a PhD candidate from the University of Kentucky specializing in vibro-acoustics and artificial intelligence; Kamar Godoy (KG), pursuing his Master of Science in Innovation Management at Tufts University; and Phebe Cunningham (PC), a rising senior at Worcester Polytechnic Institute pursing a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering.
Our marketing co-op, Ila Jagannath (IJ), is a rising senior at Northeastern University, pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in User Experience Design with a minor in Psychology. She has been a great asset to our team, creating dynamic animations, infographics and illustrations for our digital marketing channels, and managing SEO updates for our website.
Q: What drew you to apply for an internship at Acentech?
SRI: I always had great fascination towards machinery and building interactions contributing towards noise & vibration. The fact that Acentech specializes as a “team” trying to solve complex vibration and noise challenges in buildings, drew me to pursue a position at Acentech. I believed it would be amazing to be able to benefit from the combined acoustics knowledge that many top consultants at Acentech provide.
KG: In the spring of 2021 at Tufts University, I took an architectural acoustics course taught by Acentech’s very own Kelsey Rogers. It was in that course that I found my passion for Acoustics. The previous semester I took a music recording and production course with Matthew Azevedo, and my senior year, I worked with Kelsey and Principal Consultant Jonah Sacks to complete my research in vocal adaptation due to architectural design. Learning that all of these wonderful individuals worked at Acentech and had such a passion for advising the next generation of diverse thinkers in this field moved me to want to pursue my passion at a company that has such amazing people.
IJ: I found this internship through Northeastern’s Co-op search platform. I was initially drawn to this internship because my skills seemed like a good fit for the responsibilities of the role and I felt that there were a lot of areas where I could grow my marketing knowledge along with my design skills. I have always been interested in the field of sound and how it can relate to visual design and I was amazed at Acentech’s portfolio when I checked out the website while applying.
Q: How does your degree coursework support your work at Acentech?
SRI: Acoustics, vibration, and noise reduction were the focus of my PhD research and courses. Hence, it goes without saying that it is pertinent to the consulting work we do at Acentech. Because Acentech projects were so closely related to my studies and previous industrial work experiences, I was better equipped to contribute and perform well than I had anticipated (in fact, across a variety of project types and scopes).
KG: I am able mix my passions and studies of mechanical engineering, music, and physics here at Acentech. I get the technical background from my courses in technical drawings and fluids, I utilize my knowledge of musicianship and sound for qualitative analysis of spaces, and I blend the two worlds and articulate my findings though my years of teachings physics.
PC: I had anticipated Architectural Engineering preparing me well for Architectural acoustics a very long time ago, but I didn’t realize how ideal this path was in letting me spring into this field that intersects construction and design. Courses in structural engineering, electrical engineering, studio design, and mechanical design have given me a foundation in each of these fields that allows me to understand the reasons for acoustical decisions. If I had followed other educational paths, I would spend my first few years in consulting acquainting myself with that knowledge, but now I get to expand on it.
IJ: My degree is all about using visual storytelling to elevate the explanation of a concept and facilitate the viewer’s understanding of such. A lot of the projects we do at Acentech seem complex to the average person, so I have been able to use my design skills to make this information more digestible and fun.
Q: Were there any ‘aha!’ moments during your internship that helped you connect theoretical with practical concepts?
SRI: Yes, in particular the architecture of the Remote Monitoring System (RMS). It was definitely a “aha!” moment for me to learn that Acentech’s RMS service was totally created in-house from the ground up. My interactions with my mentor Bill Yoder, who made a significant contribution to the development of RMS over years – were immensely enlightening, educative and enjoyable. He has consistently supported me during my time here, which has allowed me to quickly grasp the goals and subsequently offer my bit to RMS’ continued progress.
IJ: One of my strong areas is animation. While struggling to convey lots of information into small spaces for the website and social media, I realized that using animation to create short videos was a great way to fit all of this information into engaging bite size pieces.
Q: What were some of the more interesting assignments you undertook during your internship?
SRI: I would say everything involving installation and development of RMS systems, building footfall vibration analysis, and all of the site visits I made in the Boston region come to mind. I appreciate everyone on the NV team who included me in all those projects; it was a pleasure working with all of them. To be completely honest, I nearly felt that working at Acentech is like frequently visiting a large food buffet where you were instead served with a variety of Acoustics projects to choose from.
PC: I spent much time completing a round robin, creating the same room model in multiple software. This quickly sprung me into the technicalities of modeling and room acoustics, and having plenty of people around to answer my many questions was extremely helpful.
IJ: I am currently working on revitalizing Acentech’s culture and about us pages of the website. I’ve really enjoyed learning about the company and diving deep into who we are as a company to portray that to the world.
Q: What are a few things you would like to learn more about, or take back with you to apply during your formal studies?
SRI: I definitely would like to learn more about RMS systems’ cloud, web and server based development tools while actively working on several Noise and Vibration control projects. I aim to integrate the knowledge I gained from the projects I worked on at Acentech with my academic research in applying deep learning to classify acoustic and vibration sources in and near buildings.
KG: Expanding on my knowledge of user experiences in acoustic spaces and how that experience is driven by the design of a space as well as what aspects of the space correlates to the desires of the user.
IJ: During my time at Acentech I’ve had the privilege of participating in marketing meetings where I have been able to learn so much about how a company works and what the necessary actions are to grow a company from the business side of things. As someone who has focused on visual design my whole life, this has been a really valuable learning experience about marketing.
Q: What are your hopes after graduation?
SRI: Upon graduation, I would like to pursue a career in noise and vibration developmental and consulting domain. I also intend to get an INCE Board certification after my graduation in order to propel my consulting career.
KG: After graduation, I hope to continue my work in architectural acoustics.
PC: This experience has made me sure that this is the path I’d like to continue to pursue. I’ll be applying to acoustics Masters programs this Fall, and beyond that, we’ll see!
IJ: I am still trying to fully figure out what I want to do after graduation but I want to become a more well-rounded UI/UX designer so that I can open the door to as many different design opportunities as possible.
Q: Any words of wisdom or perspective that you’d like to share with others that might be considering a career in acoustics, vibration, technology, or other aspects of the AEC industry?
SRI: A lot of mechanical and electrical engineers still think acoustics and vibration career opportunities in the AEC industry are not for them to pursue. However, in addition to engineers with expertise in civil and architectural engineering, the AEC business also needs engineers from these fields. Consider a building area near noisy machinery; a good mechanical or electrical engineer with knowledge of acoustics will be able to comprehend how the operation of that machinery may interact with and affect the comfort of the acoustics in a nearby room. In a typical AEC project, he/she may not have the liberty always to fix the machinery directly but they will certainly have the chance to consider how creatively they might reduce the energy transmission from that noisy machine to their ears.
KG: The world of acoustics is one that is for everyone. As a person coming from several minority communities, it is hard to feel as though the spaces in which you are most passionate about will be the places you will find comfort and joy. To that, I will have to say that if you find yourself talking about acoustics, vibration, technology or anything in that sphere and it excites you and others around you, then keep chasing after it, despite potential apprehensions. I have had a bevy of other passions in the past but acoustics has always stuck out to me as being one of the most connected spaces. Everyone I meet whether at Acentech, or in academia who pursues a passion in acoustics has always been so excited and eager to learn and share information to grow the community as a whole. I hope to continue to see more people in the world of acoustics from diverse backgrounds in the near future because this community is truly growing towards many great things.
PC: The AEC industry as a whole has so many niches that will absolutely make you excited to come to work. Keep searching if you’re not there yet! I have worked in other AEC disciplines where I loved the people and the company, but the projects never had me as excited as these do – searching for the sweet spot at the intersection of your skills and passions is key.
IJ: Although I work in marketing, this job has made so intrigued by the AEC industry and how essential it is to the spaces we create. I think it would be a great career for anyone that has an interest in music, engineering, and architecture.