Graduate Program in Acoustics


Course Listing

The Graduate Program in Acoustics offers a broad variety of courses toward the M.Eng. in Acoustics degree. The M.Eng. degree requires 18 credits from a set of core courses, with the remaining 12 credits coming from elective courses. All courses are 3 credits, and the list below provides descriptions of the courses currently being offered through distance education at Penn State.

We typically offer four to six courses during each fall and spring semester. Each semester is 15-weeks in length, and our faculty teach two lectures per week. Most DE classes are "blended" with with the professor teaching resident students in the classroom while distance students are either viewing the live broadcast of the lecture or viewing an archived recording. All lectures are archived to be viewed at the convenience of the student. To enroll and view the lectures, all students are required to have specific computer hardware and software systems.

Use the following links to see which ACS courses will be offered next semester through:

Core Course Descriptions

The following courses are required for students pursuing the M.Eng. in Acoustics degree. These courses are offered every year, either in the fall and spring semesters. Students are strongly encouraged to start with ACS 501 and/or ACS 502 as these two fundamental courses provide the basic background prerequisite for many of the following required and elective courses. All courses are 3-credits unless otherwise specified.

  • ACS 501, Elements of Acoustics and Vibration This course introduces the fundamentals of acoustics and vibration, focusing on structural vibration and sound waves in simple objects such as mass-spring systems, strings, rods, and plates. The fundamental concepts of vibration are presented along with applications to engineering and industrial problems. Topics covered: simple harmonic oscillator; mechanical resonance and damping; forced vibration and normal modes; transverse waves on strings; boundary conditions and standing waves; elasticity; longitudinal, torsional, and transverse vibration of bars; transverse vibrations of membranes; and flexural vibrations of thin plates. [Offered every Fall semester]
  • ACS 502, Elements of Sound Waves in Fluids This course lays the fundamental groundwork for the propagation of acoustic waves in fluids. Topics include: basic equations of fluid dynamics, acoustic lumped elements, speed of sound, linear acoustic wave propagation, plane and spherical waves, radiation of sound from sources and arrays, sound intensity and power, reflection and transmission of sound at boundaries, absorption of sound, normal modes in rooms, probation of sound in pipes and acoustic filters. [Offered every Fall semester]
  • ACS 505, Experimental Techniques in Acoustics [2 credits] This hands-on laboratory course covers the calibration, uses, and applications of acoustical and vibrational transducers, familiarizes students with electronic and other instrumentation used in fundamental data measurement, and provides students to develop skills with data acquisition and analysis. This couse is available to resident students only. [Offered every Spring semester]
  • ACS 513, Digital Signal Processing This course is being replaced by ACS 597 Advanced Signal Analysis. More information will follow. [Offered every Spring semester]
  • ACS 514, Electroacoustic Transducers This course covers derivation and discussion of the fundamental operating characteristics of transducers for acoustics and for vibration. Acoustic transducers will include microphones, loudspeakers, and underwater hydrophones and projectors. Student must have a working knowledge of MATLAB prior to taking this course. [Offered every Spring semester]
  • ACS 515, Acoustics in Fluid Media This course covers sources of sound: superposition of simple courses, free space Green's functions, dipoles and quadrupoles, multipole expansion, radiation of sound, Kirchhoff-Helmholtz integral theorem, Rayleigh integral, radiation from cylinders and spheres, scattering from cylinders and spheres, diffraction, sound sources in ducts, cavities, and rooms, and a very brief introduction to acoustic finite elements and acoustic boundary elements. [Offered every Spring semester]
  • ACS 516, Acoustical Data Measurement and Analysis This course is being replaced by ACS 597 Advanced Signal Analysis for Acoustics and Vibration. More information will follow. [Offered every Fall semester]. The new course "Signal Analysis for Acoustics and Vibration" will cover time- and frequency-domain analyses for sampled, discrete-time acoustic and vibration measurements. Development, application, and consequences of filtering, spectral analysis, and correlation for single- and multi-channel data.
  • ACS 590, Colloquium [1 credit] This 1-credit course prepares students to be able to make effective presentations about a research topic at scientific conferences. [Offered every Spring semester]

Elective Course Descriptions

In addition to the 18 credits of required core courses, M.Eng. degree students need to take four additional courses (12 credits) to reach a total of 30 credits for the degree. The elective courses below are offered on a rotating basis, usually every couple of years. Specific course offerings depend on student interest and faculty availability. The course descriptions below indicate when each course was last offered. Course offerings for the upcoming semester are announced several months in advance.

  • ACS 519, Sound and Structure Interaction Topics covered: structural vibrations of beams, plates, and cylindrical shells; structural damping; coupling of structural vibrations with acoustic pressure fields; analytical and numerical techniques (finite element and boundary element methods) for solving structural-acoustic problems; statistical energy analysis; transmission loss of plates; survey of practical applications for aerospace, automotive, and naval structural-acoustic systems. [Last offered Fall 2013]
  • ACS 521, Stress Waves in Solids This course will cover recent advances in ultrasonic nondestructive evaluation; the propagation of elastic stress waves in solids; reflection and refraction of waves; horizontal shear; multilayer structures; viscoelastic media; testing principles.
  • ACS 530, Flow Induced Noise The objective of this course is to provide the basic and applied aspects of noise created by subsonic fluid flows including prediction and reduction techniques. The concepts of noise and non-radiating pressure fluctuations created by unsteady flows are discussed from both a theoretical and experimental perspective. For a given class of flow, mechanisms for the creation of unsteady wall pressures, forces and sound, radiated directly and re-radiated by the vibration of the structure, are presented. The course will place a heavy emphasis on real world applications with material discussing both current research thrusts and past work in the field including the review and discussion of relevant journal articles. [Last offered Spring 2014]
  • ACS 537, Noise Control Engineering Topics covered: source-path-receiver model, human hearing and psychoacoustics, human response to noise and vibration, sound quality metrics and criteria for quantifying noise, acoustic standards related to noise and vibration control, instrumentation for measuring and analyzing noise and vibration, noise sources (distributed sources, impact sources, flow noise), absorption (materials, measurement, placement), control of sound in large and small rooms, partitions and barriers, mufflers, and vibration control techniques. [Last offered in Spring 2016]
  • ACS 598E, Advanced Engineering Mathematics This course is only offered for Distance Education students. This course will provide basic tools for solution of differential equation of acoustics and vibration. Topics include: first, second, and higher order ODEs, boundary and initial value problems; special functions and series solutions; Laplace and Fourier transforms; and numerical integration techniques. [Offered every Spring semester]

  • ACS 597, Computational Acoustics This course provides a background to the field of computational acoustics with exposure to several important computational tools including: symbolic mathematics software (like Mathematica), finite differences, finite elements, boundary elements, scientific visualization, sound propagation algorithms. When possible, emphasis will be placed on commerically available software for solving noise and vibration problems. Guidlines are given for choosing the right numerical approach, generating meshes, and solving problems in areas such as product noise, audio and telephony, structural acoustics, and automobile and aircraft interior noise. Time domain, frequency domain, and fluid-structure interaction problems are all addressed. [Last offered Fall 2015]
  • ACS 597, Nonlinear Acoustics The topics covered for this are: review of thermoviscous linear sound; nonlinear equations of acoustics; steepening/harmonic generation; weak shocks/N-waves; Burgers' equation; sonic booms; acoustic saturation; radiation pressure; acoustic levitation; nonlinear reflections and standing waves; biomedical harmonic imaging; streaming; cavitation and sonoluminescence; parametric arrays and the "audio spotlight"; scattering of sound by sound; and computational nonlinear acoustics. [Last offered Spring 2015]
  • ACS 597, Ocean Acoustics This course covers a broad, but comprehensive, introduction to many important topics in underwater acoustics. The major goal is to give participants a practical understanding of fundamental concepts, along with an appreciation of current research and development activities. It serves as a foundation for more advanced study of current literature or for other specialized courses. Topics covered: ocean dynamics: e.g., derivation of the Navier-Stokes equation; derivation and solution of the wave equation: Green's functions, wavenumber integration, normal modes, PE, ray theory, energy flux; boundary reflection: layered fluid and elastic media, plane and spherical wave reflection; and boundary and volume scattering. [Last offered Spring 2013]
  • ACS 597, Marine Bioacoustics This course will provide an introduction to the role of acoustics in aquatic biological systems and how acoustics is used to study biological process. Topics include: marine animal hearing; sound production; behavior; echolocation; remote sensing; and the impacts of sounds on marine animals. [Last offered Fall 2013]
  • ACS 597, Spatial Sound and 3D Audio This course is an overview of recent developments in virtual acoustics (also known as 3-D sound, 3-D audio, binaural audio, or spatialized sound). The course pulls from many subdisciplines of acoustics including psychoacoustics, physical acoustics, signal processing, active acoustic control, architectural acoustics, audio engineering and computational acoustics. Topics to be covered include: Head related transfer functions (HRTFs); elements of psychoacoustics for 3-D sound; the "stereo dipole"; auralization (including reverberation effects); virtual acoustic systems; cross talk cancellation; ambisonics; wave field synthesis; multi-channel audio; virtual reality modeling language (VRML) and applications. [Last offered Spring 2013]
  • ACS 597, Outdoor Sound Propagation This course will cover a variety of outdoor sound scenarios, but a majority will focus on propagation near the ground. Topics include: effects of realistic ground surfaces; temperature gradients; atmospheric turbulence; propagation over barriers & terrain, and computational methods for outdoor sound. [To be offered Fall 2017]
  • ACS 597, Audio Signal Processing This course will present the essential signal processing and acoustical modeling associated with audio systems used in broadcasting, communications, music recording, and video foley production. Topics covered: details of digital waveform compression processes and formats; digital signal processing for audio filters, modulation, filters, compressors, harmonizers, and reverberation special effects; digital audio workstations; the history and types of microphones and guitar pickups; amplifier design types, including digital, transistor, and vacuum tube amplifier designs; and loudspeaker system design including measurements and cross-over design for vented and sealed cabinets. This course will prepare students for working in the audio industry by supporting practical applications of acoustics theory to audio-related applications but it will not address electrical design of devices such as amplifiers or transducers. However, it will explain the differences and common uses of devices and processes in audio engineering. [Last offered Spring 2017]
  • ACS 597, Applications of Aeroacoustics and Vibroacoustics (alternative title: Acoustics of Musical Instruments). This course will provide an in depth exploration of the physics and acoustics of classical musical instruments. Topics will focus on the mechanisms of sound production by stringed instruments (plucked, struck and bowed), percussion (drums, marimba) brass winds (lip reed, cylindrical bore, conical bore), woodwinds (flutes, single-reed, double reed). Related topics will include radiation properties, damping mechanisms, impedance measurements, and the coupling between acoustics and structural components. As time allows, ethnic variations on classical instruments may be discussed. An understanding of the fundamentals of acoustics and vibration will be assumed as prerequisite for this course. [To be offered Fall 2017]
  • ACS 597, Architectural Acoustics Theory and Research This 3 credit graduate course will cover underlying theory and commonly used research methods in architectural acoustics. The theory topics will include reflections from infinite surfaces and finite objects, absorption mechanisms, and psychoacoustics concepts specific to architectural acoustics. The research methods that will be discussed include room acoustics impulse response measurements, modeling of room acoustics using commercially- available software, and experimental design of subjective listening tests. A set of recently published research articles related to these topics will also be examined in detail. [Last offered Fall 2014]
  • ACS 597, Advanced Transducers & Acoustic System Modeling Topics for this course include: condenser, electret, piezoelectric, magnetic coil, and balanced-arm transducers, mechanical mounting; interaction of closely-spaced transducers and nonlinear response. Computational modeling for analog circuits using SPICE, and Modelica and Simscape for FEA and DAE models. [Last offered Spring Fall 2014]

  • AERSP 511, Aerodynamic Noise This course covers all aspects of sound generation by unsteady flow. The material includes methods based on classical acoustics as well as noise modeling and prediction based on computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations. Topics covered: Human response to noise; noise metrics; fundamental solutions of the wave equation;green's functions; sound generated by flow; Lighthill's acoustic analogy; application of Lighthill's analogy to turbulent flows; physics of jet noise; modern theories of aerodynamic noise generation; sound generation by solid boundaries; propeller noise helicopter rotor noise; and duct acoutics. [Last offered Fall 2012]
  • A E 458, Advanced Architectural Acoustics and Noise Control This course covers advanced consideration of noise control in buildings; ventilating system noise and vibration; acoustic design variables. The course will begin with a brief review of acoustics fundamentals and will include the following topics: (1) sound isolation in buildings, (2) heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) noise control and (3) an introduction to architectural acoustics principles for the design of venues for speech and/or music. [Last offered Fall 2015]

  • ACS 596, Independent Study and Special Topics Individual courses on specific topics may, with Acoustics Program approval, be arranged with an Acoustics Program faculty member. Individual study courses range from 1 to 6 credits, with credit load based on the content and effort, and in negotiation between, student, instructor, and the Acoustics Program. Individual study courses are not to be confused with independent study. Individual study courses require a constant interaction between the student and instructor and active engagement of both with the content. Topics for these courses often focus on the subject of the master of engineering paper, which is the degree capstone. However, individual study courses may not be used to accumulate degree credit for writing the paper.