GVSU Physicists Profile
Bailey Groendyke (2017)
Going into college, I started as a Music and Engineering major who wanted to design concert halls and percussion instruments. After experiencing and hearing about acoustic issues with GVSU’s Louis Armstrong Theater (LAT), another student who happened to be a Music and Physics major recommended that I work with Dr. Karen Gipson on a research project to solve the problem. We got to participate in the Student Summer Scholars Program the following summer. We researched, took measurements, and ended up connecting with a local acoustics firm; I had such a great experience that shortly afterward I switched from Engineering to Physics. At this point, I had developed a strong mentoring relationship with Dr. Karen Gipson, and she helped guide me to other projects and opportunities that helped me succeed. The research project on LAT led to submitting our findings to the Vice President of the university, presenting at the Acoustics Society of America conference, as well as to an internship for myself at an acoustics consulting firm called Acoustics By Design. We also measured the acoustics for another performance venue at GVSU, the Sherman Van Solkema Recital Hall, and happened to record measurements before and after major water damage to the room.
For my physics senior project, Dr. Gipson and I worked on refining an Electronic Speckle Pattern Interferometry (ESPI) set-up to measure vibrational modes for percussion instruments. During the year, another physics major connected me with her boss from her internship the previous summer at Steelcase. After chatting about my room acoustics experience and research I was working on in ESPI, I got another internship at Steelcase to help with acoustic innovation. As Dr. Gipson and I were taking interferograms of cymbals and gongs, I was researching office acoustics solutions at my new internship. I was also able to take on leadership roles in Physics Club as well as Women in STEM Fields club at the encouragement of Dr. Gipson. Because of my double major, I had to take summer classes to graduate in a reasonable amount of time, and Dr. Gipson took time out of her own summer to do three different independent studies with me. The day after my last final exam, that internship at Steelcase turned into a full-time salaried position.
I currently work as an “ Applications Engineer ,” but I introduce myself as a physicist since I am mainly using my knowledge in acoustics at Steelcase. I have found that pursuing both of my passions at once, Music and now Physics, helped prepare me for this role. I understand sound in two different ways from a perceptual standpoint with music and from an analytical standpoint based on physical concepts. In the Innovation Management Office (IMO) at Steelcase, we get to bring scientific discipline to real business challenges. I am currently the acoustics lead in the department, but I also get to work with others on projects like finding more sustainable ways to powder coat furniture to making a cloaking film based on the polarization of LED screens. I learned from my internships and research at GVSU that physics helps me describe the sound all around us whether it’s in a open office that doesn’t allow for focused work, a noisy classroom that’s hard to concentrate or learn in, or a bustling nurse station next to a sleepless cardiac patient. My new purpose, through Steelcase, is to improve the soundscape of offices, classrooms, and hospitals and thus the acoustic quality of life for others.