Historic summit turns up volume

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2012, 12:00am


The Acoustics 2012 Hong Kong Conference and Exhibition is an historic joint meeting, bringing together heavyweights from the influential Acoustical Society of America (ASA), the Acoustical Society of China (ASC) and other leading associations for the first time.

Hosted by the Hong Kong Institute of Acoustics (HKIOA), the conference will take place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from May 13 to 18.

The event represents the first collaboration between the ASA, ASC, HKIOA and the Western Pacific Commission for Acoustics. The joint meeting features the 163rd meeting of the ASA, the ninth meeting of the ASC and the 11th Western Pacific Acoustics Conference, says Tom Ho, HKIOA chairman and general co-chairman of the conference.

At the conference, more than 1,300 insightful study papers will be presented by academics at top-notch research institutes and specialists of private corporations from 36 countries and regions. Of these, 1,076 papers will be orally presented in 131 parallel sessions running continuously throughout the event. Another 131 papers will be presented through posters.

The papers deal with a broad range of acoustics-related topics, including architectural acoustics, signal processing, biomedical acoustics, psychological and physiological acoustics, underwater acoustics, noise and vibration, structural acoustics, aircraft noise, and speech and hearing. The conference is expected to attract more than 1,500 participants.

The conference will feature four keynote lectures: 'Language Learning and the Developing Brain: Cross-Cultural Studies Unravel the Effects of Biology and Culture', presented by Dr Patricia Kuhl, co-director of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington; 'Acoustic Diode', presented by Cheng Jianchun and associates at Nanjing University; 'Acoustics of Traditional Chinese Theatres', by Wang Jiqing of the Institute of Acoustics at Tongji University in Shanghai; and 'Reservoir Acoustics and Its Applications', by Wang Xiuming of the Institute of Acoustics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

A plenary session and awards ceremony will be held on May 16. Highlights will include the presentation of such lifetime achievement awards as the ASC's Ma Dayou Acoustical Award to Dr Leo Beranek, an American expert. The ASA will present its lifetime achievement award to Beijing-based Professor Ma Dayou, one of the founding fathers of architectural acoustics in China. Beranek will host a talk at the plenary session.

The concurrent exhibition features 25 exhibitors, including suppliers and specialists of acoustics-related equipment, building materials and noise-control materials.

The thought of a joint meeting, organised by the ASA and ASC, arose in talks between top executives of the associations in 2002.

'They were keen to update each other on cutting-edge developments in several areas, including underwater acoustics and medical ultrasonic technologies,' Ho says. 'However, the meeting did not materialise because of several issues, including problems with visas. We have learned that some academics from China had to cancel their planned attendance at conferences abroad at the last minute owing to difficulties in obtaining visas.'

By October 2008, the HKIOA had got involved and has since played a pivotal role in making this joint meeting a reality. 'The ASC approached us at the Internoise conference in Shanghai and engaged us in looking at the feasibility of organising the joint meeting in Hong Kong,' Ho says.

At the Internoise meeting held in Ottawa, Canada, in August 2009, representatives from several acoustics societies discussed the viability of the joint meeting for the first time and made a tentative schedule. By the time of the Western Pacific Acoustics Conference in Beijing in September 2009, the HKIOA had won the bid to host the 11th Western Pacific Acoustics Conference in Hong Kong in 2012 and formulated a plan to combine it with the ASA conference to enrich the content.

HKIOA representatives attended the ASA's annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas, in October 2009 to present its proposal for the Western Pacific Acoustics Conference and invited the association to co-organise it into a joint meeting.

Ho says: 'We got the consent of the ASA to cancel its annual meeting to be held in Kansas City and instead co-host the joint meeting in Hong Kong in May 2012. Several organising committees were formed to co-ordinate this international conference in Hong Kong and a memorandum of understanding was drafted as well.'

To lay the groundwork for the historic joint meeting, HKIOA executives, including Ho, flew around the world pulling strings and liaising with prominent figures.

At the Internoise meeting in Cancun, Mexico, in November 2010, HKIOA representatives presented progress reports on the joint meeting by the various organising committees, Ho says.

The HKIOA was established in 1993. Its original membership included many acoustics practitioners who were members of the Hong Kong Chapter of the Institute of Acoustics of the United Kingdom. The HKIOA now has more than 400 members from different disciplines, including architecture, building services, engineering consultancy, education, government and research academics. Most are also chartered engineers or members of other local and overseas professional institutions.

'Our mission is to promote acoustical knowledge and practices, and maintain and present the integrity and status of the profession to the public and the government,' Ho says. The institute also promotes awareness of noise and noise control in the city.

'All large-scale infrastructural development projects in Hong Kong are required to undergo an environmental impact assessment and noise is among the items to be appraised,' Ho says.

The HKIOA has contributed to government consultation exercises related to noise-control policies and legislative amendments in Hong Kong, he adds.