Acoustical Society of America
Gold Medal Award - 2003

Richard H. Lyon

RICHARD H. LYON was born on 24 August 1929 and grew up in Evansville, Indiana. He attended Evansville College (now the University of Evansville) as a physics major and graduated magna cum laude in June 1952. In July 1952, Dick left Evansville for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was a graduate student in the Department of Physics. He worked with Dr. T.F. Hueter on thick plate vibrations and then did his doctoral thesis research under Professor K.U. Ingard on the turbulent excitation of strings. In his final year as a student at MIT, Dick was elected to Sigma Xi, and held the Owens-Corning Fellowship in Acoustics. He received his Ph.D. in physics from MIT in June 1955.

After completing his work at MIT, Dick became an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. He taught courses in acoustics and communication theory, and conducted research to acoustics and structural vibrations. He made significant contributions relating to sound propagation in the atmosphere, applications of statistical detection theory, and nonlinear random vibrations. In June 1959, he was promoted to Associate Professor.

In the summer of 1959 Dick traveled to the University of Southampton to work on random vibration with Professor E.J. Richards. In October 1959 he began a nine-month stay at the University of Manchester under a National Science Foundation Post Doctoral Fellowship working with Professor M.S. Bartlett. During his one-year stay in England, Dick carried out research on the statistical analysis of interacting vibrating systems. It was during this time that Dick combined his diverse background in physics, electrical engineering, and acoustics to formulate ideas that became the basis of his development of statistical energy analysis. In August 1960 Dick joined the staff at Bolt Beranek and Newman, Inc. (BBN) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He worked on problems of sound-structure interaction, excitation of structures by turbulence, and a variety of other consulting and research projects. In 1964 Dick became Head of the Applied Physics Department at BBN, and in 1967 he became Director of the Physical Sciences Division and Corporate Vice President of the company. During his 10 years at BBN, Dick published over 35 papers, mostly in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. These papers make a major contribution to the field of acoustics. In recognition of this contribution, Dick was elected a Fellow of the Acoustical Society. It is interesting to note that Dick was able to maintain his technical skills and to make significant contributions to the field of acoustics while also serving as the manager of a BBN division that grew significantly in size under his leadership.

In 1970 Dick joined the faculty of MIT as Professor of Mechanical Engineering. At MIT he headed the division of Mechanics and Materials in the areas of sound, vibration, and dynamics. He also taught courses in basic and applied acoustics, measurements, and instrumentation. In 1970 he also joined Dr. Jerome E. Manning in founding Cambridge Collaborative, Inc., a consulting and research organization specializing in the development and application of statistical energy analysis. As a Professor at MIT, Dick served as an advisor to many students. His strong interest in acoustics inspired a number of these students to pursue careers in this field. He was also instrumental in the development of the MIT Acoustics and Vibration Laboratory. The areas of Dick's research at MIT demonstrate the diversity of his interests and knowledge in acoustics and vibrations. They include: transportation noise and vibration, acoustical scale modeling, statistical energy analysis of complex structures, signal processing, machinery diagnostics, and the new field of statistical phase analysis. During his career, he was written five books, over 100 technical papers, and a large number of technical reports. He retired from MIT in 1995.

Dick has also contributed to the activities of the professional acoustics and vibration community. He served as President of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) in 19931994. [An important aspect of his presidency was the Re-Creation project within the Society.] He has served as a member of the Technical Council, the Editorial Board, and the Committee on Medals and Awards. He participated in the organizing committees of the ASA's Fiftieth Anniversary Meeting and NoiseCon 83, and was general Chairman of Internoise 86 and the 124th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in 1994.

In 1976 Dick formed his own diagnostics system and quiet product development company, RH Lyon Corp. Although today he spends a few more days in "retirement" on Cape Cod, he continues his work at RH Lyon Corp in areas of sound quality, machinery diagnostics, and product design.

Dick has received many honors, including an honorary Doctor of Engineering from the University of Evansville in 1976, the Rayleigh Medal from the Institute of Acoustics (UK) in 1995, and appointment to the National Academy of Engineering in 1995, and the ASA's Silver Medal in Engineering Acoustics in 1998.

Dick Lyon resides in Belmont, Massachusetts with his wife, the former Jean Wheaton. He has three children: Katherine Ruth, Geoffrey Cleveland, and Suzanne Marie. In addition to his professional and family interests. Dick is an avid oarsman, and has a taste for interesting automobiles, and has begun a new avocation as a student of the classical guitar. As one who has had the privilege of working with Dick for over 40 years, I join other members of the Society in congratulating him on the receipt of this richly deserved award.

Jerome E. Manning