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Andrew Piacsek

Andrew Piacsek


Associate Professor

Department Chair

Science 2, Room 138

Click here for a full cv (pdf format).


Educational Background

B.A., Physics, Johns Hopkins University, 1986
M.S., Acoustics, Penn State University, 1991
Ph.D., Acoustics, Penn State University, 1995


These are the classes that I teach on a fairly regular basis:

Other courses I have taught:

  • PHYS 101 Introductory Astronomy
  • PHYS 111-113 Introductory Physics
  • STEP 301 Bridging Seminar I - Research Opportunities
  • STEP 302 Bridging Seminar II - Research Skills

I have also taught courses in the Douglas Honors College and the Science Honors program.

Research Interests

My primary area of interest and expertise is physical acoustics, which is the study of mechanical waves and related phenomena. I am interested in waves of all kinds, from sound waves in a trumpet to sonic booms to tsunamis; that such disparate phenomena are united by similar mathematics is especially intriguing. My background is primarily theoretical and computational, but most of my projects with students involve pairing experiments with computer models to investigate wave behavior.  I am looking forward to developing an experimental acoustics laboratory with an anechoic chamber in the new Science II building.

Recent and current projects include:

  • modeling sonic booms from maneuvering aircraft (funded by NASA)
  • experimental and computational investigation of the effect of internal pressure on the resonance frequencies of a spherical aluminum shell (the goal is to develop a noninvasive method for monitoring intracranial pressure)
  • experimental and computational study of wave behavior in a tensegrity mast
  • measuring and modeling wind turbine noise

Another area of interest is the epistomological basis of science, the role of science and society, and how to improve scientific literacy and understanding among non-scientists. I am interested in the ways in which society develops its perceptions of science, including the perseverance of pseudo-scientific and unscientific beliefs. My main work in this area is developing curriculum at the university level that specifically addresses our understanding of how science works and why this is important.

Selected Publications and Presentations

undergraduate co-authors are underlined

  • Piacsek, A, and Plotkin, K, "SCAMP: Application of Nonlinear Progressive-wave Equation to sonic boom transition focus," 51st AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, Grapevine, TX, paper 1064 (2013). [pdf]
  • Piacsek, A, and Abdul-Wahid, S, "Development of a computational model to predict cranial resonance shifts due to changes in intracranial pressure," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 132, 1954 (2012).
  • Piacsek, A, Taylor, R, and Abdul-Wahid, S, "Resonance frequencies of a spherical aluminum shell subject to static internal pressure," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 131, EL506-511 (2012). [pdf]
  • McDonald, BE, and Piacsek, A, "Nonlinear Progressive Wave Equations for Stratified Atmospheres," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 130, 2648-2653 (2011). [pdf]
  • Piacsek, A., “Time domain modeling of atmospheric turbulence effects on sonic boom propagation,” Sonic Boom Workshop, ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress, Vancouver, BC (2010). [invited]
  • Piacsek, A., “Numerical modeling of weak shock propagation: Past, present, and future,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 125, 2599 (2009). [invited]
  • Piacsek, A., “My voice looks like that? A hands-on, textbook-free approach to learning physics,” presented at the 11th Annnual meeting of the Northwest Section of the American Physical Society, Vancouver, B.C. (2009). [invited]
  • Piacsek, A., “Numerical simulation of sonic boom propagation through atmospheric turbulence,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 124, 2591 (2008).
  • Piacsek, A., Locey, L., and Sparrow, V., “Time-domain modeling of atmospheric tubulence effects on sonic boom propagation,” 29th AIAA Aeroacoustics Conference, Vancouver, BC, paper 3032 (2008). [pdf]
  • Locey, L., Sparrow, V., and Piacsek, A., “Sonic boom post processing to include atmospheric turbulent effects,” 29th AIAA Aeroacoustics Conference, Vancouver, BC, paper 3035 (2008).
  • Piacsek, A., “Investigating musical sound as a model for the scientific process,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 123, 3519 (2008). [invited]
  • Piacsek, A., and Wright, I., “Effectiveness of physlet computer animations for enhancing student learning of acoustic principles in a course for non-science students,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 121, 3157 (2007).
  • Smith, A., and Piacsek, A. "Elastic and vibrational properties of a regular tensegrity structure," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 119, 3390 (2006).
  • Piacsek, A., and Wagner, G., "Environmental impact of modern wind farms," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 115, 2414 (2004).
  • Piacsek, A., "Using acoustics to lure high school students into a career in science," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 114, 2311 (2003).
  • Grogan, J., Braunstein, M., and Piacsek, A., "An experimental study of changes in the impulse response of a wood plate that is subject to vibrational stimulus," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 113, 2315 (2003).
  • Piacsek, A.A., "Using computers to overcome math-phobia in an introductory course in musical acoustics," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 112, 2344 (2002).
  • Piacsek, AA, "Atmospheric turbulence conditions leading to focused and folded sonic boom wave fronts," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 111 , 520-529 (2002). [pdf]
  • Piacsek, AA, and Roberts, K., "Influence of wall curvature on the resonance behavior of glass bowls," Proc. of 17th International Congress on Acoustics, Rome (2001).
  • Piacsek, AA, "Measurements of wineglass resonance using a fiber-optic probe," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 108, 2623 (2000).
  • Piacsek, A. A., "Nonlinearity vs. diffraction within a focusing weak shock," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 99, 2539 (1996).
  • Clarke, D. B., Piacsek, A. A., White, J. W., "Propagation of signals from strong explosions above and below the ocean," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 99, 2525 (1996).

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