Isabel Hughes | Mustang News

Binding together art, science and math, audio engineering encompasses everything from music production to creating equipment that exports and plays sounds. Cal Poly’s Audio Engineering Society (AES) is a student-run club aiming to help students pursue careers in audio engineering. Although AES was founded years ago, electrical engineering junior and AES co-President Nathan Hatch said the club was previously just a collective of students with common interests. However, this year, AES is organizing fundraisers, Audio Convention (AudioCon) and other events. The club has been restructured as a collaborative group of students who are focused on making audio engineering education and networking more accessible to
everyone interested.

“When it first started, it was just a few guys in a garage building speakers, and I think since then it [has] evolved more into a professional platform, a means of access for students that are passionate about the music industry and audio technology to get into a career that reflects their passion,” Hatch said.

The students of AES have dedicated themselves day in and day out to organize the first ever AudioCon at Cal Poly which will take place in Chumash Auditorium and various classrooms May 3 and May 4. The first day will include a career fair with various reputable audio companies such as, Audio Precision and QSC Audio. The second day will consist of educational workshops led by professionals as well as student presentations on audio-related projects. Hatch and other co-President generate engineering senior Anna Shabora said the shared enthusiasm for audio amongst those involved is a driving force for
the convention.

“They want to interact, they want to share the knowledge, it’s not this esoteric thing,” Hatch said. “It can seem like that, but we want to demystify that process because for a lot of people coming here, they kind of hear about audio engineering and what the business is about, but there is no real concrete presence on campus.”

By facilitating AudioCon, AES hopes to streamline knowledge about the audio field, which is still developing. Manufacturing engineering senior Bryan Hillenbrand compared audio engineering to a treasure hunt and explained that his fascination with the field stems from discovering the ways audio equipment functions and can be repaired.

“There are books about it, yes, but a lot of the very basic concepts are very well understood. People have established that very well, but when you get into why things behave the way they do or ways to fix a problematic behavior of a speaker, there’s 10 different answers to that,”
Hillenbrand said.

There are 13 different engineering majors at Cal Poly, but none specifically focusing on audio engineering. Liberal studies and engineering senior Michelle Naziri said there is a need for new people in the audio engineering field and a need for an audio engineering educational path at Cal Poly.

“There are so many different institutions all around, especially in California, very focused on recording and more of the music side of things or becoming a producer, but there’s not much on creating the supplies to create those kind of artistic projects,” Naziri said. “There isn’t really a school anywhere that’s doing that, so we want to tell Cal Poly that we want to be that school. We want to be that school that’s in between the [San Francisco] Bay Area and Los Angeles that can focus on audio and can bring more students for that entire purpose.”

AES encourages anyone interested in audio to come to AudioCon to get their foot in the door, whether their interests are centered in the artistic side, the marketing and sales side or the engineering side of audio.

“Cal Poly and the West Coast has never seen students do something like this before,” Naziri said.

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