Acoustical Society of America
R. Bruce Lindsay Award - 1991

Joseph M. Cuschieri

Our technical community provides us with the opportunities to work with the opportunities to work with an array of amazingly capable people on virtually a continuous basis. Every so often, however, we encounter someone whose abilities, appetite for knowledge, and character set them apart. Their thinking is original. They grasp new concepts and techniques in a flash and plunge into new areas without hesitation. They convey a confidence that very quickly establishes them as one on whom you can rely. Working on analytical or experimental problems come naturally. These individuals are as valuable as they are uncommon. Joe Cuschieri is one of these people.

Joe was born in Malta in 1957. As a youth Joe demonstrated an intellectual ability that guaranteed his position in the University of Malta. However, Joe was not merely a student but rather enjoyed a reputation as an all-around, well-developed individual. He was, moreover, a person of some character, which was illustrated when he personally engaged the then Maltese prime minister over proposed changes in the University that would have dramatically impacted its character. Fortunately these changes were not instituted and Joe earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Malta with First Honors under University of London rules, the first such degree granted.

I first met Joe in 1983 when he joined the faculty of Ocean Engineering at Florida Atlantic University. I had come to know E. J. Richards quite well and when a position in acoustics opened in the department, Elfyn suggested Joe as a candidate. Joe had gone from Malta to the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) at Southampton in 1980, where he joined the group chaired by Professor Richards. Elfyn was immersed in the development of energy accountancy as a means to merge the practical necessities of machinery noise control with first principle understandings of the physics and mathematics involved. Joe's challenge in carrying out his Ph.D. dissertation research lay in developing the analytical models sufficient to implement Professor Richard's energy method while at the same time carrying out the experiments on actual structures to evaluate his results. With his dissertation, Joe's ability of bringing contemporary experimental methods together with first principles to address real engineering problems was clearly established.

Breaking into the research community in the United States is no mean feat. Recognizing this challenge, Joe quickly applied his skills to the research needs of the community. Within his first year at Florida Atlantic University he had gained support from the Engineering Foundation. This was quickly followed by support from the Navy to extend his energy methods to examine structural power flow and fluid structural coupling in flow excited pipes.

This work was joined by a program on structural acoustics sponsored by NASA Langley, which included the adaptation of accelerometer arrays to measure power flow as well as lasers to measure surface vibrations. The work also produced new advances in modeling and measuring vibrational power flow through structural joints including geometries involving thick connected plates. Following and in parallel, an industry program to explore large shaft-bearing vibration interaction began, which further employed power flow methods and laser based vibration measurements.

As a result of these works, Joe is now best known in the acoustical community for this work in developing power flow methods in structural acoustics. Nevertheless, a careful review of his work illustrates his command of all the skills, experimental, power flow, statistical energy, or classical mechanics, necessary to successfully master his problems. His current effort for the Office of Naval Research (ONR) extends this research to include water loaded structures and the development of a multichannel, laser based system for measuring structural power flow.

I mentioned earlier that the ability to step from one established research path to an entirely different area is really quite unique. Joe has done just that in what now constitutes a major program in 3-D underwater sonar imaging. His idea for a new approach to sonar signal processing is coupled with work from Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute and forms an important part of the autonomous underwater vehicle program in the department. Going further, he has naturally assumed a mastery of a wide range of computer hardware and software that is so critical to signal processing, controls, and AI computing in mobile robots.

Joe's papers, publications, and reviews involve The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, the Journal of Sound and Vibration, the Noise Control Engineering Journal, the Shock and Vibration Bulletin, the Transactions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, the Applied Acoustics Journal, the ASCE Journal of Applied Mechanics, the Journal of Fluid Mechanics, and the National Science Foundation. He is a fine teacher and a demanding mentor. In spite of an exceptionally full schedule, he manages to provide to industry his expertise as a valued consultant.

Joe's contributions to the profession, to his art, and to our University have been remarkable. So long as this nation produces or attracts young individuals of Joseph Cuschieri's quality, we can be confident that our community will prosper.