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Alumna Laura McLeod: In Aalto, you have the freedom to explore and learn new skills

Acoustics and Audio Technology major gave Laura McLeod the opportunity to combine her two fields of passion: music and physics
Aalto University / A girl sitting on sand with sunglasses on / Laura McLeod
At Aalto, Laura was able to explore areas around her major.

Why did you choose the Master's Programme in Computer, Communication and Information Sciences – Acoustics and Audio Technology?

After my bachelor degrees in Physics and Music at the University of Edinburgh, I was keen to find a program that combined my two fields of interest. The supervisor of my bachelor’s thesis recommended Aalto University’s major in Acoustics and Audio Technology. As I learned about the expertise of the professors and the exciting research that was happening, I decided to apply.

What was the most interesting part of your studies?

The freedom you have when studying. It meant that I was able to explore areas around my major and learn new skills that were not directly related to my degree major, but still could be applied. For example, I took courses in speech processing and recognition, machine learning and even (tried) to learn a new language (Finnish)! The freedom of study is very different to other master’s programmes offered at other universities.

What kind of tools did you get from your studies that have been useful in your working life?

The master’s programme was very practical which meant you had a lot of hands on experience. For example, we had a course where we built a loudspeaker. There was also a wide range of programming courses in all the majors, which is incredibly important as we move towards a digital era. This has set me in a very good position for starting my new job.

Where do you work now?

I now work as a Graduate Acoustic Consultant at a multinational company Arup in the Manchester, UK office. This involves a breadth of work which mainly revolves around the design, assessment, management and control of sound and vibrations in the built environment. For example, my job can include anything from carrying out noise surveys for proposed developments to predict the evolution of sound and its effects on the existing environment, to assessing or designing acoustics in buildings from schools to concert halls.

How did you end up in your current job?

Prior to starting my master’s degree, I completed a three-month placement as a Vacation Student in the Acoustics team at Arup in Glasgow, UK. I absolutely loved the breadth of work there and the fact you got to work on all different types of projects within acoustics, so I knew I’d be back. Having the master’s degree in Acoustics and Audio Technology taught me lots of new skills and gave me a great basis for understanding the fundamentals that I can now bring back to the company.

What tips would you give to students starting their master’s studies?

Embrace the opportunity and be open to new ways of thinking, both in and out of the studies! During my master’s studies, I became really active in the international community and was both the HR Responsible for Board of European Students of Technology (BEST) Helsinki and President of Erasmus Student Network (ESN) Aalto. This came with some awesome opportunities both for personal development and for travelling, but also for giving something back to the university. Finally, get to know the people and culture. People will really appreciate you making an effort to learn the language and knowing about the culture of the place you live in, and it may come in handy for potential work after your studies.

You can study acoustics in the Master's Programme in Computer, Communication and Information Sciences - Acoustics and Audio Technology, read more here.

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Embrace the opportunity and be open to new ways of thinking.

Laura McLeod

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Acoustics and Audio Technology - Computer, Communication and Information Sciences, Master of Science (Technology)

The major in Acoustics and Audio Technology equips students with a fundamental understanding of human hearing, audio perception, and physics of sound. The skills they acquire enable, for example, reducing noise pollution, planning harmonic environments and designing coherent sound experiences.

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How could you listen to only one sound in a noisy room? How does your voice change when you shout into the wind? Michael McCrea and Rapolas Daugintis, the summer workers at the Acoustics Lab, are looking for answers to these questions

Aalto University/The Acoustics Lab/Michael McCrea and Rapolas Daugintis/image: Ira Matilainen

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According to Janne Pietilä, the employment prospects in acoustics and audio technology are good, as experts are needed in virtual reality production as well as in construction

Janne Pietilä/ Master's Programme in Computer, Communication and Information Sciences - Acoustics and Audio Technology/ image: Lauri Viljavuori

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