Dear UKAN+ Member

Welcome to our June newsletter, a range of news from across our network reflecting and informing our community.

AI in Acoustics- A London Branch Event

Stephen Dance
Photo 1: The morning discussion panel taking questions from the audience.
On the 22nd May 2024 the Institute of Acoustics London Branch with the support of UKAN+ (www.acoustics.ac.uk) held an all-day meeting at the Hub of London South Bank University. The event was entitled, “AI in Acoustics “ and was attended by 103 delegates. They enjoyed ten presentations divided in to four sessions given by Architects, Software Engineers, AI programmers, Academics and Acousticians. The hosts were Professor David Waddington of the University of Salford and Professor Mark Plumbley of the University of Surrey, see Photo 1. Each of the sessions ended with a discussion panel, except for the morning session which ended in an unscheduled fire alarm. The summary was AI is useful to acousticians if used ethically. The training dataset is never big enough and the power consumption appears to be growing exponentially.

Throughout the meeting there were a series of interactive questions and polls delivered through Mentimeter, an on-line survey tool that using QR codes for convenience. These questions were designed to gauge the background of the conference attendees, as well as their knowledge of and attitudes to AI. As 85% of the audience were from consultancy, they felt they wanted to know more about AI and its potential application to acoustics.

The 2nd UKAN SIG-SAIA Meetup

Aiden Hogg
On May 10, 2024, the Spatial Acoustics and Immersive Audio SIG held its second annual meetup at the Centre for Digital Music (C4DM), Queen Mary University of London, including a backstage tour given by the broadcast team at the Royal Opera House. (Dr Aidan Hogg organised this year's annual meetup)

This event was a great melting pot of ideas and perspectives, bringing together professionals from a diverse range of universities, including UCL, Imperial, QMUL, Surrey, Southampton, York, and Cambridge. Industry was well-represented, too, with participants from Nugen Audio, Timbral, CES Design Ltd, and the Royal Opera House. It was fantastic to see this diverse group of people come together to delve into the current open challenges in 3D audio with talks from Chin-Yun Yu (QMUL), Dr Annika Neidhardt (Surrey), Dr Saurjya Sarkar (QMUL), Dr Angela McArthur (UCL) and Dr Lorenzo Picinali (Imperial).

It was great to see so many people in attendance and to see the inner workings of the Royal Opera House. It was an inspiring day, and we have the photos to prove it; bring on the 3rd annual meetup!

Noise Network Plus: Call for Expressions of Interest

We are building a proposal for a network focussed on noise and its impacts, in response to the EPSRC call “Network Plus: Tomorrow’s Engineering Research Challenges”. We aim to bring together a diverse, multidisciplinary community across academia, industry, government and other stakeholders through series of technical workshops, problem-solving sandpits and outreach events. We will fund pilot and feasibility studies to explore key research gaps and support longer-term projects through applications for funding to research councils and other mechanisms. If funded, the Noise Network Plus will run for 3 years starting January 2025.
A set of community surveys and scoping workshops in April 2024 identified important technological challenges, cross-cutting themes and high-level priorities related to noise. These range from protecting human health and wellbeing; reducing noise impacts on marine and terrestrial wildlife; and reducing transport noise from new technologies such as drones and air taxis; to greater use of noise sensors, AI and data; faster digital design of quieter devices; new sustainable materials for noise mitigation; and understanding complex socio-technological systems involved in improving the noise environment.

If you are potentially interested in joining this network, and have not already been in contact, please submit your information through the form below. Please respond by Monday 10 June 2024.
Form: https://forms.office.com/e/iKjn9DsTWV
Mark Plumbley (University of Surrey), Abigail Bristow (University of Surrey), Charlotte Clark (St George's, University of London), Simone Graetzer (University of Salford), Alan Hunter (University of Bath), Antonio Torija Martinez (University of Salford).

UKAN+ Final Event & IOA 50th Anniversary Celebration

12-13 September 2024 at Manchester Metropolitan University
An opportunity to have your input in shaping the legacy from UKAN. The UKAN+ event is scheduled for the 12th of September. The attendance at the UKAN+ event is free for UKAN members. The session will be attended by representatives from the EPSRC, industry and IoA representatives. Registration link is below.

Provisional agenda for the UKAN+ event:
Morning: History of UKAN and key achievements
Afternoon: Presentations by UKAN+ grant holders. Future of UKAN and its relation to a wider research landscape. Drinks and canapes reception.

Poster presentations from UKAN members and SIG leaders will run throughout the day. £250 Amazon gift 1st Prize.
The IoA Acoustics 2024 event will be run in parallel on both dates (12 and 13th of September). A separate registration for the IoA Acoustics 2024 event will be open shortly through this link.

Dr Elaine Massung (Academic Smartcuts) and Professor Dan Allwood (Peak Writing) continue busting common proposal myths.

MYTH #11: Reviewers are chosen at random.

For the expert peer review process followed by the UKRI research councils, reviewer selection is based on what is written in the proposal. To be more precise, it’s based on the portfolio manager’s interpretation of what you wrote in your proposal. Not only does this mean you need to ensure that your proposal is written clearly, but it should also be understandable to an intelligent non-expert (see Myth #10 re: not cutting and pasting from a technical section for your summary).

Myth #9 has to be kept in mind as well: grand proclamations or trying to make your project seem more impactful than it might be in reality can backfire. For example, let’s say a PI writes in the Academic Beneficiaries section that the results of their project will have an impact on the research areas of acoustics, robotics, energy storage, spintronics, and control engineering. These areas are now fair game for potential reviewers … even if 99% of the proposal is focusing on acoustics.

Before writing your proposal, consider what areas you would like reviewers to be drawn from. What type of researchers would be able to fairly evaluate your proposal? Be as precise as you can in your brainstorming: think of the specific people who would be ideal as well as the general fields or communities that would make the most sense. For example, this could be something like acoustics for health care purposes or acoustics for non-destructive evaluation.

Keep these categories in mind while writing and cast a critical eye over your proposal before hitting submit. Does what you’ve written clearly express that these are the areas you’re working in? If you’re uncertain, ask for the thoughts of those who are providing feedback for you: based on what you’ve written, what type of reviewers would they select?

Although it can feel like reviewer selection is completely out of the PI’s hands, it’s worth remembering that there is often more that you can influence than you may think.


UKAN+ Events


You can replay our various webinars via our YouTube, including UKAN+ Webinar. Living with Listening Machines: Design Research in AI for Sound
Get in touch!
If you have any news for our July newsletter do drop us an email before the 27th June 2024. We are interested to hear a range of news, perhaps you have a recent publication, or you would like to offer a blog for our community or maybe you know of some industry news we could share.