I am writing this message on the eve of NOISE-CON 2020, a conference we have planned three times—but more on that later. What a year 2020 has been for everyone, and I truly hope that each of you and your families are healthy, safe, and employed! You should know that INCE-USA officers, board of directors (BOD), and staff have been busier than ever. Before COVID-19 hit, we had moved to online BOD meetings, which has now become a usual (and required) bi-monthly event. Prior, the officers and BOD met twice a year in person. I wanted to supplement our in-person meetings with online meetings in order to free up time during the in-person meetings. However, the pandemic has forced us to meet exclusively online, which works for getting business done but is less favorable to building relationships and comradery. I would like to thank all of our officers and BOD for their efforts as INCE-USA changes the way we do business.
I am happy to report that all of our programs continue as strong as ever. This success is due to our active volunteers. We were slated to have a blowout number of Board Certification examinees, with a total of nearly 20 before COVID-19 hit. The final count for examinees was reduced to 13, but I believe that is still a record for Board Certification exams in one sitting. I would like to thank Paul Burge and the certification board for all the hard work converting the single-location exam in New Orleans to seven different places throughout the United States. If you are afraid of that eight-hour exam, you can bypass it by taking the three courses in noise control engineering. This year we have fully transitioned to three new instructors: Andrew Barnard, Tyler Dare, and Corinne Darvennes. I would like to extend gratitude to Dr. Courtney Burroughs for running these courses for INCE-USA over the last 4–5 years and carefully transitioning the program to these new instructors.
Our publications are as strong and engaging as ever. Editor Jim Thompson of our Noise Control Engineering Journal (NCEJ) is working hard to publish NCEJ issues as usual while moving the journal to open access. Eoin King, editor of Noise New International (NNI), has started a podcast that highlights upcoming articles in NNI. Meanwhile, conference planning continues for next year’s INCE-USA-hosted INTER–NOISE, to be held in Washington, DC, on August 1–4, 2021. It will mark the 50th anniversary of this international congress event. We are just learning that Conference Chair Raj Singh has announced that the program will be a hybrid of live/in-person and virtual programming. I truly hope that by NOISE-CON 2022, to be held in Lexington, Kentucky, we will be back to a full in-person event.
On a more serious note, our treasurer, Deane Jaeger, and our executive director, Joe Cuschieri, are working very hard every day to maintain INCE-USA’s financial stability. The pandemic has greatly restricted our ability to generate revenue from our conferences, but INCE-USA has strong financial reserves to weather this storm. With the leadership of Gordon Ebbitt, a small group of INCE-USA members are working on strategic initiatives to move INCE-USA into the next decade. You will see more of that in the coming year. Meanwhile, we cannot ignore the other events of 2020, and the BOD and officers are working to make INCE-USA more diverse, with a focus on both gender and ethnic diversity in our leadership. We have established a diversity (awards) committee to improve diversity of award candidates. An INCE-USA diversity statement was released in early December.
I have another important change to report with respect to the INCE-USA Annual General Meeting (AGM). In the past, the AGM used to be held at our winter board meetings. Consequently, there was very little member attendance. However, changing the date of the AGM required a change to our corporate calendar year, which required a change to our bylaws. I am happy to report that the BOD has approved these changes, and the fiscal year will now run from October 1 to September 30, allowing our AGM to take place as part of our NOISE-CON conferences, starting in 2021. I hope this change will bring about greater member engagement.
Our awards committee headed by Dana Lodico, vice president of honors and awards, has been very busy as well. This year INCE-USA awarded two major awards: The Laymon Miller Award for Excellence in Acoustic Consulting was presented to Dougs Sturz, INCE Board Certified and principal consultant with Acentech for 42 years. The William Lang Award for Distinguished Noise Control Engineer was awarded to Ken Kaliski, INCE Board Certified and member of the Resource Systems Group (RSG) for 34 years. INCE-USA also announced a new $6,000 annual scholarship for any undergraduate or graduate students studying in the field of acoustics, vibration, or sound, with an award preference given to women and underrepresented minorities in the noise control profession. A new Member’s Choice Award is to be announced soon, with the hope that there will be numerous member nominations.
Finally, I hope you have been seeing all of our posts, tweets, and email blasts, which are part of a concerted public relations (PR) effort headed by Mark Storm, our vice president of public relations, with guidance from our management company Virtual Inc. There was never a better time to use a PR initiative than now, to get the word out about NOISE-CON 2020. I hope everyone had a chance to attend and found value in this year’s conference. Yes, we will all miss seeing each other in person, but that too will return in another year. For one last time, I would like to thank Gordon Ebbitt (conference chair), Kristin Cody (conference vice chair), Paul Donavan, Steve Sorenson, Pranab Saha, Patricia Davies, Micaela Lindstrom, and Tony Xue. A big thanks to Virtual Inc. staff Regina Young, Casey Lane, Darya Behnia, Carlo Fusaro, and Bob Olson.
I am happy we are finding our way with our new INCE Business Office management company, Virtual Inc., under the account leadership of John Lessard. John is greatly assisted by Caitlin McAuslin, who is the voice of and point person for INCE-USA. Finally, as our past president Steve Marshall noted last year—and I will echo the sentiment—INCE-USA’s successes this year were due to efforts from so many volunteers. INCE-USA can only continue to be successful with continued volunteerism. I will end this message with a question: How can you help?
I wish everyone happy holidays and COVID-free 2021.