In This Issue
Summer Bridge on Noise Control Engineering
June 15, 2021 Volume 51 Issue 2
What is the role of engineering practice, education, and standards in mitigating human-generated noise? The articles in this issue survey these aspects of the US noise landscape, and offer updates and useful resources.

Introduction: The NAE and Noise Control Engineering

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Author: C.D. Mote Jr.

It is my honor and great personal pleasure to introduce readers of The Bridge to this issue devoted to noise control engineering. In 2007 the subject was first covered in The Bridge during the early stages of an NAE con­sensus study that led to the report Tech­nology for a Quieter America (TQA), published in 2010. You will find this issue a key follow-up to that work. I commend guest editors George C. Maling Jr. and Eric W. Wood for their dedicated efforts both over the years and in putting together this issue.


About a half-century ago, I became interested in the control of aerodynamic noise and vibration of high-speed circular saw blades to improve the quality of the product surface and suppress the “screaming” sound created by aerodynamic vortices shed from the rotating teeth. At a meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in Hawaii in 1978, I met Adnan Akay and we initiated a friendship that is ongoing to this day. He and I went on to found the Noise Control and Acoustics Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1981, which ASME warmly welcomed.

George Maling and William W. Lang, both IBM retirees and active NAE members, contributed faithfully and with unrelenting determination to noise control engineering for more than 6 decades. They founded and served as officers of the Institute of Noise Control Engineering of the USA (INCE-USA) and both were recipients of the William W. Lang Award for the Distinguished Noise Control Engineer. Bill was tirelessly dedicated to furthering worldwide recognition of noise and noise control as a distinct and critical engineering field. His passing in 2016 was a great loss to the community, but he lived his life to the fullest.

George chaired the committee that authored the TQA report. In 2011 he and Bill created a follow-up program to engage experts to assess specific noise issues covered in the TQA report and develop recommendations to improve the noise environment in the ­United States. The NAE first endorsed this initiative and ­topics on an informal basis and subsequently adopted it in 2016 through a new NAE policy allowing the opportunity for member-initiated programs. George, Bill, and other experts worked closely with the NAE in the organiza­tion, planning, and management of workshops on the particular topics of the TQA report.

In This Issue

In the first article George Maling and Eric Wood summarize noise control efforts and workshops over the past 15 years, with emphasis on relevant observations and recommendations from the associated reports (all of which are freely accessible online).

Adnan Akay then provides an overview of noise control engineering and the challenging education needed to prepare students for a career in this wide-ranging field. Unlike other areas of engineering, there is no specified curriculum or program in noise control engineering; Adnan identifies a range of courses to attain a fundamental and practical understanding of the field.

Noise is a factor in virtually every form of transportation, as Gregg Fleming addresses in the tracking and addressing of noise from trains, highway vehicles, and aircraft. The understanding and mitigation of transportation-related noise is partially in hand but awaits further research and fieldwork for many particular needs and opportunities.

In addition to engineering methods used to suppress noise, noise standards are a critical tool for both evaluation and management of noise. Robert Hellweg details national and international standards developed to accurately measure and report noise over decades. This information provides manufacturers and consumers a common standard as they seek to evaluate and purchase quiet products for the home and workplace.

To address noise concerns, identifying noise source is always important. Yangfan Liu, Stuart Bolton, and Patricia Davies explain acoustic source localization techniques, challenges associated with current methods, and potential applications.

George Maling rounds out the issue’s thematic articles with a compendium of resources for noise control engineering, from Buy Quiet programs and databases to professional and governmental organizations.[1]

The following experts contributed to the quality of this issue by evaluating its articles: Jim Barnes, Bennett Brooks, Gary Dylewski, Alex Gilbert, Judi Greenwald, David Herrin, Cecilia Ho, Yong-Joe Kim, Stephen Lind, Dana Lodico, William Murphy, Allan Pierce, and Don Scata.

Concluding Thoughts

Bill Lang and I had frequent discussions about the future of the NAE in all areas of interest. He was passionate in his dedication and thoughts both about the value of enhancing greater cooperation among the three National Academies and about greater engagement of the NAE members in the technical work of the ­National Academies. Notable progress exists there, but excellent opportunities remain. Those goals are important to the NAE. At the 2020 NAE annual meeting, President John Anderson called on more members to participate in the work of the National Research Council.

I will forever thank Bill Lang for the heart and soul that he devoted to noise and to the engagement of the NAE in noise over his 38 years of academy membership. Bill was a true treasure for noise control, for the National Academy of Engineering, and for his legions of friends and colleagues who worked with him, for him, and under him. Memory of him is perpetual.



[1]  Note from the managing editor: We regret that we were not able to enlist an author for the column on engineering and social responsibility aspects of noise engineering.

About the Author:C.D. Mote Jr. is Regents Professor, University of Maryland, and ­former NAE president (2013–19).