- In memory of my father -
Acculution started as blog back in 2017, so around six years ago. I was noticing that a lot of traditional topics such as signal processing and fundamental acoustics were lost in companies even if the employees had once attended classes tackling these topics. And with my working on research in microacoustics, and having started working with optimization, I thought that a blog would a good way of both keeping a repository for myself, but also for engineers and students to get a taste of what is possible when working with the theory first before venturing into prototyping and traditional trial-and-error approaches.
I had a notebook for keeping track of the many ideas that started popping into my head, and while it was new at the time, it is in a sad state today:
I have never really kept track of how many people were reading the blog posts, but it was always nice to get a comment or two, although most posts really have none. What I did find interesting was seeing which countries the viewers came from, and try and deduce which companies were following, as certain hotspots were certainly present. The most read post, as far as I can see, is on Evanescent Waves in Tubes, which is very surprising as it is somewhat of niche topic.
Over the years, I noticed that when on conferences, people would come up and ask if I was the guy behind acculution, and so it became of less importance of which company I was actually employed in, as what I presented was of interest in itself, and so I slowly realized that you can make yourself into a brand, if you are consistently output material which is correct and interesting, especially if old misconceptions are cleared up in the process.
After a couple of more years of being very active across several other platforms such as LinkedIn in general and sites such as Audio Science Review (audiosciencereview.com), I started getting request from companies regarding if I could help them in their design work, and while I did spent a lot of time talking to my employer about working part-time only, and then take on consultancy work from non-competitor companies, a deal could not be found. I think that is natural, as any company will be concerned whether or not you are really present, or if you are thinking about your consultancy tasks. And as some companies instead started asking if I would consider quitting my job, and they would be ready with tasks for me, I decided to quit and start my own company in 2021, so around two years ago.
It was a unique situation to be in, as most start-ups are taking more of a risk, but since I was pretty much promised tasks, it was a decision that I was fairly comfortable with, although the pandemic was not forgotten, and the economy was certainly impacted. But it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I have not looked back since.
In the last two years I have solved more tasks, and more complex tasks, than in probably this 5-8 years before that. It has been a great mix in the sense of physics with electromagnetics, acoustics, and structural mechanics, and in terms of companies it has be mainly audio companies, mostly loudspeakers, but also other audio products not generating sound, and also rodent detergent transducers, and underwater transducers, and many other challenging cases.
One major standout has been finally bringing acoustical topology optimization into the industry. This has been a goal of mine since I started looking into 'topopt' late 2016, and while it has been very difficult and still with more to learn, I now have a setup that gives really robust designs that can modify sound fields across frequency and space in an unseen manner. And it is a great example of how one can merge academia and product development to come up with highly innovative designs that are driven by a mixture of pure mathematics and industry knowledge. The resulting products will soon be seen in the industry, but it is still too soon to go into details.
During the last couple of years I have also help more students than I have been able to keep track of, as they have reached out via mail, ResearchGate, LinkedIn, and other channels, and it has very often been PhD students who were to do simulation work without there professors being able to help them. This has also led to some co-authorships in topics that I would never had gotten involved in myself otherwise, so there have been some interesting learnings there.
I have also gotten quite some request for a possible position in the company, but I think that it would be too much work to train someone for now, and the tasks are so complex that it is a risky endeavor. So I actually don't envision the company growing, although I did think so when first starting out.
Recently, I also started writing for audioXpress, which was a direct consequence of having blogged so much, and I am very thankful to Joao Martins for reaching out last year regarding this, as it has been an absolute pleasure to work with the team there. This has also meant that my own blog has not had many posts lately, but this is natural as there is only so much time to do research and article writing, when at the same time there are of course client tasks taking priority.
It has also been fun to do YouTube videos with Erin's Audio Corner, and there will probably be made more, and perhaps with other channels too. This is really where it is great to have your own company and simply representing yourself, as this sort of branding has also led to some projects.
A thing that I actually have enjoyed quite a lot is the financial bookkeeping. There is just something very satisfying and 1:1 about completing a task, sending an invoice, receiving the money, and balancing it out in the finance software. I like being on top of how things are going financially, and so I have learned a lot about that aspect too.
Going forward, I actually don't see much changing. The focus on topology optimization will now be more PD minded and less research, so new research topics such as metamaterials and AI could be new focus points. Other than that, I think I will spend less time on many students, and instead focus on one per year, for example as MSc supervisor, as I have probably spent an unreasonable amount of time on students so far, and there is so many other tasks that need to come first. And as I have now been censor/examiner many times, I think I will also dial back on that, partly because of the time involved, but perhaps maybe also because I think I too tough on the students and have lost touch with what is to be expected of them, because I constantly work with very complex topics and so I am not representative anymore of the typical "engineer examiner'. So unless it is as opponent for a PhD student, I will probably start declining such requests.
I have experienced a great deal of support from peers, former co-workers, and from the industry in general, so thank you very much for that. I think there are many more interesting projects out there, and I hope to be able to share some of the results with you in the future.