Acoustical Society of America
R. Bruce Lindsay Award - 1998

Robert L. Clark

At the age of 11, Rob Clark began playing bluegrass music with a 5-string banjo. He played for many years, and throughout this period, his fascination with stringed instruments grew as did his interest in the field of acoustics. He enrolled in the engineering program at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VPI) at the age of 18 and studied mechanical engineering while concurrently working as a cooperative education student for a local servo motor company (Inland Motor).

I first met Rob in his senior design project at VPI which involved the design and implementation of a "satellite" loudspeaker system. Upon asking him to demonstrate the system at the closure of the course, several professors visited the classroom to ask that we halt the demonstration! It was the start of a very fruitful and enjoyable relationship for both of us. Rob completed his B.S. in mechanical engineering in 1987 and immediately enrolled as a graduate student at VPI. He completed his M.S. Thesis in mechanical engineering in approximately 11 months, focusing on the interaction of the supersonic mixing of fluids. During this period, Rob enrolled in my graduate projects and he decided he would make a career of it.

In 1988, Rob left his academic efforts to pursue a career at Michelin Americas Research and Development Corporation, serving as an engineer in the Noise and Vibration Group. After 8 months managing several successful projects, Rob was promoted to manager of that group. The primary responsibilities involved the analysis of noise and vibration within the cabin of the automobile in relation to the tire and suspension system. After serving as manager of the group for a brief period, Rob chose to return to VPI as a Ph.D. student in the Vibration and Acoustics Laboratory (VAL) to study active control of sound and vibration. His work at Michelin drove him to search for alternative solutions to interior noise control problems associated with the acoustics of reverberant sound fields. Given that his initial graduate training was primarily focused on fluids and that his chosen area of study was strongly influenced by acoustics, structural dynamics and controls, Rob's background is very interdisciplinary.

<\P> During his Ph.D studies Rob focused on the study of the physical nature of structural acoustic coupling and developed structural based methods of quantifying and controlling the acoustic response with distributed sensors and actuators used to develop "adaptive or smart structures." His work was amongst some of the first to demonstrate control of sound radiation with adaptive structures and has formed the basis of much related research and applications in recent years. Rob completed his Ph.D. in 2 years and a semester, publishing 11 refereed journal articles during that period. He then accepted a position at VPI as a Research Associate, working on a funded program under the Office of Naval Research, in February of 1992. During this period he furthered his work on the active control of sound radiation from structures developing novel control approaches and optimal design techniques. After 6 months in this position, he accepted an appointment at Duke University as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science in September of 1992.

Since accepting this position, Rob founded the Adaptive Systems and Structures Laboratory, devoted to the control of sound and vibration through the use of adaptive structures. He has since expanded his interests to include some very innovative work on the control of aeroelastic systems, and has combined his work to study the effects of convected fluid loading on the active control of sound transmission into aircraft cabins. At Duke Rob has also provided a large stimulus to the acoustics program there by starting new courses in applied control and adaptive structures for control of sound and vibration and putting together an acoustics laboratory (including designing and building a reasonably large anechoic chamber with his colleague, Don Bliss). Rob's research has already drawn significant attention. In 1992, he received an Award for Outstanding Paper by a Young Presenter In Noise at the 125th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. In 1993, he was the recipient of the ASME Award for Best Paper in Adaptive Structures, presented by the ASME Technical Committee on Adaptive Material Systems and Structures. In 1995, the National Science Foundation recognized his work with a career award to fund his research in the combined areas of aeroelasticity and structural acoustics. In 1996, he was included in the NASA Group Achievement Award, Active Noise Control Team, for conducting creative and pioneering studies of active noise and vibration control, and most recently, he was the recipient of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers "in recognition of his outstanding research and development in the field of adaptive structures involving active noise and vibration control." Recently Rob was promoted to Associate Professor and has also summarized much of his work in the text "Adaptive Structures: Dynamics and Control" which he co-authored with Gary P. Gibbs and William R. Saunders.

In terms of service, Rob has served as Associated Editor for the ASME Journal of Vibration and Acoustics (1996–1999), Vice Chairman of the North Carolina Regional Chapter of the Acoustical Society of America (1995), Member of the AIAA Adaptive Structure Technical Committee (1997--present), Member of the ASME Adaptive Structures and Material Systems Technical Committee (1993–present), and Member of the Editorial Advisory Board for The Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures. In April of 1998 Rob will serve as technical chair of the AIAA/ASME/AHS Adaptive Structures Forum. Rob has also been active member of the Acoustical Society of America, publishing 18 papers in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America in the last 8 years.

Rob and his wife Dana have two children, Amelia (4) and Trey (7). Rob has recently returned to his music and is currently playing finger-style, blues guitar, acoustic of course!