Students in Lawrence Tech's new Bachelor of Science in Audio Engineering Technology program travel 20 miles from the Southfield campus to take many of their classes – and it's well worth the commute.
The academic theory courses are taken on the campus in Southfield, while the students strengthen the practical side with classes taken at an affiliate studio, Plymouth Rock Productions, a full-service audio/video production company in Plymouth, Mich. The production team’s client list includes the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, J. Walter Thompson, Ford Motor Co., Aretha Franklin, and the popular music group 50 Cent Headrush, to name just a few.
Lawrence Tech’s bachelor’s degree program provides students with many opportunities in the audio field because they gain both a strong science background and practical production experience, according to Kenneth Cook, chair of the Department of Engineering Technology.
“While the students gain studio experience and work with industry professionals at Plymouth Rock Productions, they learn the physics and electronics of what goes on inside all these instruments here on campus,” Cook said. “This program is in the right place at the right time for this industry.”
Plymouth Rock Productions owner Chris Breest is on the industry advisory panel that helped develop the program, and he applauds Lawrence Tech’s emphasis on theory and practice.
“At the studio students immediately immerse themselves in the inter-workings of a functional recording business, as well as having an opportunity to make contacts with real industry professionals,” Breest said. “This makes the traditional classroom setting come to life in a way that is not only educationally dynamic but also highly inspirational for students.”
Lawrence Tech has made a concerted effort to bring instructors into the program like Ben Blau, Rob Nelson, and Dieter Giese, who hold positions in the field of audio engineering and exhibit a true passion for what they are teaching.
A recording engineer since 1982 and an instructor since 1990, Blau has authored books about the audio recording industry. Nelson owns a business that teaches music. Giese has more than 30 years of experience with acoustics and noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) as a product development engineer with Ford Motor Co. He is now the owner/operator of his own company, GieseKustic, which provides sound measurement/monitoring consulting services.
LTU Studnts have multiple extracurricular opportunities to develop their audio engineering skill sets by visiting real job sites and obtaining internships. Lawrence Tech students have worked at music publishing companies, recording studios, film sets, and NVH facilities. These are unique opportunities and experiences rarely available at other universities, according to Cook.
Audio engineering offers a wide variety of opportunities from music to movies and industrial to environmental applications, audio engineers play an integral role in bringing arts and entertainment, and even sciences to life. They combine creativity with their technical background to record, process, and ultimately create sound.