April 15, 2005 — Viterbi School seniors Jennifer Tsakoumakis and Billy Kaplan
won first place in the physical sciences category at the USC
Tsakoumakis and Kaplan demonstrate the violin they built using
fiber composite material for Joseph Hellige, Vice Provost for Academic
Programs and Professor of Biological Sciences. Such a violin could be
faster, cheaper and more acoustically reproducible to manufacture than
a traditional wooden violin.
Click on image above to hear the fiber fiddle
Annual Undergraduate Symposium for Scholarly and Creative Work for
their carbon composite fiber violin.
The pair will share the $500 prize.
(mechanical engineering) and Kaplan (aerospace engineering) built a
playable instrument from the material, and rigorously tested it on a
variety of criteria — timbre, rate of decay, tone quality — against
conventional wooden instruments.
and I have both been members of the USC aerodesign team for several
years," said Kaplan. "This is a club that designs a radio controlled
airplane for a contest every year and builds it from composite
"For our senior design
project, we wanted to take our knowledge of working with composite
materials and apply it in a way that has never been done before.
A violin seemed like a fun challenge. "
hardest part? "Duplicating the exact shape of a violin. We wanted
to make molds that had the exact same shape as an old Stradivarius
violin. To do this, we found the published dimensions, then input
all of the coordinates into a 3D modeling program on a computer.
We sent these to a CNC milling machine, which cuts precise
three-dimensional shapes out of blocks of material, shapes that were
then used to make a mold."
Kaplan, who comes
Omaha, NB, played violin when younger. Tsakoumakis is from
Huntington Beach, CA, and is now taking lessons.
Both are headed directly for the aerospace
industry. Kaplan will work for Boeing's cockpit design section in
Seattle Washington, which Tsakoumakis is headed for Northrup Grumman's
Joint Strike Fighter project in El Segundo.
was stiff: some 154 students entered 97 individual and group awards in
sx categorie: Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Physical Sciences,
Mathematics and Engineering, Life Sciences, and Professional and
Applied Disciplines. First and second prizes were awarded in each
category by faculty judges.
The symposium , the
seventh of its kind, was sponsored by Joseph Hellige, Vice Provost for
Academic Programs, and Neal Sullivan, Vice Provost for