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Sound Perspectives
L. Keeta Jones
Education and Outreach Coordinator Acoustical Society of America 1305 Walt Whitman Road Suite 300 Melville, New York 11747-4300 USA
ASA Education and Outreach Program
Currently, many people do not know what acoustics is. For example, at the 2016 Quadrennial Physics Congress (PhysCon), the undergraduate attendees most of- ten asked, “What is acoustics?” As it stands, the field of acoustics is highly depen- dent on students accidentally discovering acoustics instead of seeking it out. Even worse, there are very few undergraduate institutions that offer acoustics-focused majors (Columbia College Chicago offers an Acoustics BS,; University of Hartford offers an Acoustical Engineering and Music-focused BSE,; University of Kansas offers an Architecture Acoustics Un- dergraduate Certificate,, and others have very few courses focused on acoustics. So how can students get exposure to acoustics if they must rely on such low odd chances? One answer is outreach.
Acoustics outreach efforts promote awareness and understanding of acoustics. By conducting outreach, whether that be through lecture series, hands-on demon- stration sessions, lab tours, or science blogging, acousticians can cultivate an ap- preciation for and an understanding of acoustics. Acoustical Society of America (ASA) members, as scientists and educators, would benefit themselves and their communities by getting involved in outreach activities. Successful outreach not only serves a very important teaching role, but it can also impact those doing out- reach by giving positive impressions of their work and organizations.
Outreach allows scientists to interact with the wider, typically nonacademic, gen- eral public. In sharing our scientific expertise with those who pursued different academic aspirations or who may not have attended college at all, we can gener- ate public interest and support for acoustics research and scientific research more generally. This can lead not only to a greater understanding of how acoustics re- search applies to everyday challenges but also to increased financial support. For example, grant providers, such as the National Science Foundation, often want to know how research will “advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning [...]” (March, 2007). Therefore, by developing and including acoustics outreach programs, researchers will improve their likelihood of getting research funding.
Outreach aimed at college students, academics, and professionals helps build and strengthen networks. Reaching out to undergraduate students exposes them to acoustics courses, faculty, and research opportunities at various institutions. This can result in higher class enrollments, more acoustics-related majors, and even de- veloping new undergraduate or graduate programs. Outreach at national, region- al, and local events introduces acoustics to a wider audience, exposing people from related fields to acoustics programs and career opportunities. Outreach for those still in K-12 education improves students’ chances of discovering acoustics before enrolling in college. This means that more students can actively pursue acoustics or acoustics-related programs, avoiding late-stage discovery.
 56 | Acoustics Today | Summer 2017 | volume 13, issue 2 ©2017 Acoustical Society of America. All rights reserved.

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