Sounds of Silence and Sounds of Rivers

Wed, Sep 19, 4:10 pm
Speaker Name: 
Rob Maher
Montana State University - Bozeman
Rob Maher


Rob Maher
Department Head and Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering; and Affiliate Professor of Music Technology, School of Music.
Department(s) and Affiliation(s):  Electrical & Computer Engineering; School of Music

Dr. Rob Maher joined the Montana State ECE faculty in August, 2002. He holds a BS from Washington University in St. Louis, an MS from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois-Urbana, all in Electrical Engineering. His research and teaching interests are in the area of digital signal processing, with particular emphasis on applications in digital audio, digital music synthesis, and acoustics. Dr. Maher became ECE Department Head in 2007.

Dr. Maher was previously a faculty member at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Colorado-Boulder. He also spent several years working in the audio industry as an entrepreneur and V.P. of Engineering.

Dr. Maher is a Fellow of the Audio Engineering Society, a Senior Member of IEEE, and a member of ASA, ASEE, NACADA, Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi, and Sigma Xi.

Research focus:  I am interested in inventing and developing signal processing techniques that allow classification, identification, and/or decomposition of the individual sound sources comprising a complicated audio scene.

Maher Q&A:

1.     What led you to the research you are engaged in?  

I am intrigued by the complexity of our acoustic surroundings, and fascinated by the capability of the human auditory system to pick out and concentrate upon a specific sound source even in the presence of competing sounds. I am interested in understanding and developing automated systems that can approach the capabilities of humans and other animals.

2.     Which other disciplines have you collaborated with? 

Over the years I have had excellent collaborations with musicians, architects, mathematicians, and more recently, biologists and environmental scientists.

3.     What do you find most rewarding about collaborations?  

Two things, primarily.  First, I enjoy the chance to learn new things and grasp new concepts.  Second, I really like the give-and-take of a conversation with learned colleagues and having my naïve assumptions challenged.

4.     What do you think is the greatest scientific challenge for the next 15-20 years?  

In the field of environmental acoustics, the greatest challenge will be developing automatic acoustical scene analysis capability:  hold up a microphone and the system rapidly detects and identifies all of the active sound sources.

5.     How do you see the IoE making a difference in this or other scientific challenges?  

Since people have been working on the acoustical analysis problem for many years without huge success, organizations like IoE provide a way to get many new sets of eyes (and ears!) working on the problem and bringing new and innovative ideas to the table.



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