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   A Sound Plan for Attracting Students of Color
Tyrone Porter
   The demographic survey completed by the Acousti- cal Society of America (ASA) in 2018 confirmed what many of us suspected, that the composition of the ASA membership does not reflect the demographics of the US population. This is particularly true with respect to Black representation because less than 2% of the membership that responded to the survey identified as Black.
The ASA Committee for Improving Racial Diversity and Inclusivity (CIRDI) that I chair was formed in the summer of 2020 (Porter, 2020, and charged with developing initiatives and activities to address this glaring problem within the Society and, most importantly, within academic programs and professions related to acoustics. One of the first questions CIRDI discussed was, “Why are there so few persons of color, particularly Blacks, in acoustics or acoustics-related fields?” Through our conversations, we recognized that there are few opportunities for Black students, especially undergraduate students, to be exposed to acoustics in a structured format. It is more likely that a Black student will discover acoustics and careers in the field through their own efforts rather than through a structured program (Scott, 2020, ScottNewNormal). I share my own experience as an example of what the ASA must address to diversify the field and its membership.
I have been interested in physics and engineering since high school but was completely unaware of acoustics. Most of my high-school science classes focused on fun- damentals (i.e., the biology of life across scales, Newton’s Laws), and I was only introduced to sound waves in my physics class. However, the introduction was very super- ficial, and the teacher never discussed careers in acoustics or acoustics-related fields.
On completing high school, I enrolled at Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU), which is a Historically Black College/University (HBCU) outside Houston, TX, and
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majored in electrical engineering. Similar to high school, the college physics course touched on acoustics and sound waves but with very little depth.
I was finally introduced to the fascinating world of acoustics during a summer research experience at Duke University (Durham, NC). The program was funded by the National Science Foundation, and I requested a research project in biomedical engineering to learn more about the field. Interestingly, my summer project focused on building and characterizing the performance of small transformers that would be installed in measurement devices for cardiac electrophysiology studies. I was and remain to this day an innately curious person, and so I would walk the hallways in the Pratt School of Engineer- ing at Duke and read the research posters.
I discovered that the Duke Biomedical Engineering Program had a very strong diagnostic ultrasound group and found the research to be accessible for an electrical engineering student. On returning to PVAMU, I spent the year research- ing biomedical engineering graduate programs as well as companies that produced diagnostic ultrasound systems.
The following summer, I secured an internship in the Ultrasound Division of General Electric Medical Systems, which is now GE Healthcare. I had a very supportive supervisor and an extremely positive experience, which solidified my decision to pursue a career in biomedical ultrasound. My supervisor informed me of universities that had strong research programs in biomedical ultra- sound, including the University of Washington (UW; Seattle). I was fortunate to be admitted to the bioengi- neering program at the UW, and I joined the research group led by Larry Crum. Larry recommended early in my graduate career that I join the ASA, and he served as a guide at its meetings. Larry also recommended that I attend programs that would provide additional instruc- tion in acoustics while also expanding my network, such as the Physical Acoustics Summer School. I completed
   Volume 17, issue 1 | Spring 2021 • Acoustics Today 65

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