Villanova University will lead an NSF partnership in acoustics and ultrasound technologies. The partnership includes Bucknell University, Gwynedd-Mercy College (GMC), Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP), Siemens, The Boeing Company, and Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). The partnership centers around acoustic and ultrasound education, research, and development with emphases on medical and industrial applications. It builds on the cross-disciplinary use of acoustic technologies in medical, electrical, mechanical, and civil engineering practices. The partnership recognizes the growing acoustic and ultrasound local, and national job markets, spanning the healthcare, automotive, and aerospace sectors with applications ranging from medical diagnostic and therapeutic needs to predictive maintenance of machinery and products, and extending to acoustic source tracking and localizations.
The primary objective of this new PFI is to focus on acoustics and use that focus to facilitate the transformation of knowledge into innovations that will create new wealth and strengthen the regional economy. This will be achieved by planning and implementing a model that creates a community, utilizing research, education, and commercialization to leverage the resources of the individual partners. The partnership goals are:
a. Bring together a team of Universities, a Federal Lab, committed and supporting companies from the private sector, and a State Economic Development organization all dedicated to advancing the state-of-the-art in acoustic and ultrasound technologies.
b. Broaden participation by partnering with Gwynedd-Mercy College and Bucknell University, in an NSF program involving inter-University partnerships.
c. Create a strong team with diverse skills and experience resulting in a regional infrastructure which will enhance and sustain ongoing developments in the area of acoustic and ultrasound technologies.
d. Identify areas within acoustic technologies, in addition to the proposed areas, across all engineering disciplines that are of interest to all partners.
e. Identify technologies and resources that can be shared by two or more partners and ways for product enhancement.
Acoustic technology continues to develop rapidly for commercial applications related to speech and music. The objective in most of these applications is to store, code, recognize, and reproduce speech and music with sufficient fidelity for a human listener or to allow a person to communicate with a machine through speech. A distinct set of technologies have been developed for a variety of other applications of acoustics and ultrasound in areas that include defense, security, biology, industry, and medicine. The latter applications are characterized by advances in acoustic sensors and emerging signal processing algorithms, both of which have been custom-designed for each specific problem, often by cross-disciplinary teams with expertise in engineering (electrical, civil, mechanical, or biomedical), science (physics or biology), or medicine. Although each application has its unique elements, there is also significant commonality due to the underlying acoustical phenomena at the foundation. One shared objective is to diagnose abnormal organ or product behavior and target peculiar functions and characteristics. Another shared objective is to separate, track, classify, and localize acoustic emitters, whether they represent animate (human, birds, etc) or inanimate objects (vehicles, fans, structures, etc) using their unique acoustic signatures and responses.
The partnership will take a fresh look at applications of acoustic technology in the diverse areas of defense, security, biology, industry, and medicine. Acoustics are currently used in all of these sectors, but our efforts will focus on investigations relating to industrial and medical applications.