Open House for Research, April 2024

sound tech student

Open House for Research took place amidst the Springboard Staff and PGR Conference week – did you get a chance to join us? Once more, the session was hybrid, with three in-person speakers and one joining online via Teams. 

First up was Elena Cassidy-Smith, a Fine Art PGR student. Elena’s title was, ‘Temporal Tales: Local Ecologies and living thought the Anthropocene’. Elena spoke of their practice-based PhD, which involved working at Ironbridge, Telford – an industrial heritage organisation running ten museums and multiple historical sites. At the Ironbridge Museum, the “past is constantly present”, maintaining the past in the here and now.  

Ironbridge harks back to early industry, and Elena explored how we separate ourselves from the natural world, being in space but not in a stable position, asking the question, ‘have we lost familiarity with the natural environment?’. Back then, poverty was evident, with difficult decisions being made between food and fuel; this is sadly coming around full circle nowadays.  

Our next speaker was Karen Rhys-Jones, Principal Lecturer in Education who talked about attending a conference in New York related to their PhD work. The conference was titled, ‘Insight and Inspiration’, and Karen attended after winning a Researcher Development Award from the Research Office.  

Karen spoke about the themes of physical literacy, holistic concepts, and the motivation and understanding to value physical activity for life, alongside the frustration that the effective domain was the most difficult to measure, even though it made the most difference. 

Inspiration came in the form of international delegates asking questions, leading to a change in thought processes and practices in everything Karen does – mainly, thinking holistically and considering all aspects of individuals.  

A take home message from Karen was to ‘cut your cloth’ for the next time of writing at the end of your current writing session.  

The third speaker was Dr Jason Woolley, Reader in Employability, from Creative Media Technology. Jason’s topic was ‘LCR: A Valuable Multichannel Proposition for More Media (Music) Production?’ 

Again, Jason’s talk had the theme of time; he spoke of the tension in music and sound production, how it is a competitive industry, but in this day and age there is just so much choice that often leads to decision paralysis. With sound and media production, there is almost too much choice that means the job ends up not getting done.  

For example, Jason talked about how sound has progressed exponentially form the Beatles era, and now you can get a sound system that incorporates speakers all around the room, rather than just Left, Centre, Right (LCR). 

Jason conducted some research with the Stockholm Institute, Sweden, where they presented five pieces of music that respondents listened to, chose which they preferred, and said why. The music was either LCR or full-pan, and the researchers were interested in why preferred music was chosen. An even split was found between LCR and full-pan, with analysis showing music was chosen based on emotive themes.  

Jason concluded that there is no good reason that LCR has been abandoned to time, except perhaps that companies want to sell new technologies.  

Our final speaker was Dr Yuriy Vagapov, Reader in Electrical Engineering who talked about their presentation at a recent conference in Dublin. Yuriy outlined the FAST Fan project (headed up by Dr Rob Bolam), which is electrical propulsion for future aircraft.  

The FAST Fan has no inner motor, with the motor in the hub distributed around the rim of the fan. Normally, fans would operate at low speeds, but this fan is designed to operate at high speeds. The device is a unique application and the team needs to investigate further characteristics now that they have a prototype. The next step is to install the FAST Fan onto an uncrewed aircraft, such as an advanced drone.