The role of noise and vibration engineering in a sustainable economy.

 

Living sustainably involves meeting the needs in the present without compromising the needs of the future. This applies to social, environmental, political and economic domains. Environmental resources underpin social and economic standards with political ideologies seeking to find ways to manage these domains.

The role of engineers is to deliver technology which makes the best use of resource available to benefit humankind. Many advances in technology have delivered overwhelming improvements to the quality of human life but have not been sustainable. Clear examples include fossil fuel-based power generation; delivering life changing energy to millions whilst depleting fuel resource and increasing carbon content in the atmosphere.

The entitlement to be free from adverse noise and vibration can be considered as a basic human right. A large amount of creative effort is invested to reduce the noise and vibration generated as a normal by-product of the operation of many technologies. Noise and vibration control as a palliative action generally involves adding mass or deploying materials with very specific acoustic properties; both of which may reduce the sustainability credentials of an applied technology.

Given the rightful drive for sustainable engineering solutions, how can the Noise and Vibration Engineer contribute? The answer is not always obvious. Opportunities become apparent when the entire lifecycle of an engineering programme is considered; the best noise and vibration solutions are those that are invisible to the consumer of the technology.

Noise and Vibration engineering exists in many industries with specialists looking for solutions to a common sustainable engineering challenge. The meeting for “Sustainable Engineering Design” hosted by The Institute of Acoustics on the 8th November provides a unique opportunity to share the latest insight from a diverse range of representatives from industry and research.

 

Personal Reflections by Ashley Gillibrand.

Find out more about the Sustainable Engineering Design meeting on 8th November taking place in Southampton.  

Image credit: Mayor McGinn, courtesy of Pacific Science Center