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Undergraduate Presents Jet Research at Acoustical Conference

Most who go to Hawaii find themselves at the beach, not presenting work on spectrum similarities of jet noise to a room full of acoustical researchers.

Undergraduate student Aaron Vaughn was there for just that: presenting jet noise research at the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, in November 2016.

Physics professors Dr. Kent Gee and Dr. Traci Neilsen encouraged Vaughn to present at the conference after he expressed interest in attending the conference. Over the summer, Vaughn submitted an abstract that was then accepted by the ASA.

The opportunity came after Gee invited Vaughn to join his and Neilsen’s research team. Gee and Neilsen study jet noise sources so that noise can be reduced and source models can be created and used to predict sound levels.

Noise reduction and source models are critical for military aircraft advancement. The take-offs and landings of fighter jets and other military aircraft present a huge health concern—very high sound levels that can create permanent hearing loss. This problem has prompted the Office of Naval Research to fund the research with a grant.

“It’s a big concern for not just the pilots but also all the personnel on the aircraft carriers,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn’s responsibility in the research was to conduct sound spectrum comparisons on a laboratory-scale jet, and his work is helping develop a source model for jet noise.

The research team worked closely with researchers from Japan, and the ASA conference was joined by the Acoustical Society of Japan. Vaughn had served a mission to Japan, and that experience benefited him in the collaboration process and at the conference. In both cases, Vaughn’s familiarity with Japan and his fluency in Japanese helped him communicate with other researchers and promote the collaboration.

“They had some socials where all the students and also all the other presenters there met together, and it was really cool to be able to use some of my Japanese language skills and talk with all the Japanese students,” Vaughn said.

As he moves forward, Vaughn plans to turn this research into his senior thesis project where he’ll advance from researching a laboratory-scale jet to researching a full-scale jet. He hopes to complete a master’s program at either BYU or Pennsylvania State University.

By Alyssa Nielsen and Jessica Parcell Posted on