Ask Me Anything: Sounding Off with Aercoustics VP, Architecture, Amanda Robinson

Posted by Amanda Robinson /

Describe your career path
I studied mechanical engineering at the University of Adelaide (one of only five women in a class of 50). I took an acoustics specialty subject in my final year, and really enjoyed it. When Dr. Peter Swift – someone very well known in the acoustics world in Australia – spoke to our class and said his firm was hiring, I applied right away, and was successful. That was back in 1996, and I’ve been in acoustics ever since, though I did dabble in mechanical services consulting along the way. An intercompany exchange program took me to the UK in 2000 where I worked and did a lot of travelling through Europe until 2004. After a six-month sabbatical sailing (both in the UK and Australia), I joined Marshall Day Acoustics in 2005, and was given the opportunity to work on some amazing projects – everything from desalination plants to concert halls.

How do you describe your area of specialization to your family?
I have learned not to say that I’m an acoustic engineer, as people often think that this means I do home surround sound systems! I prefer to say that I work with other people to design and deliver great sounding spaces – for all types of buildings from academic institutions to hospitals, to performing arts centres. I have always really enjoyed the fact that no two projects are the same, and that there is so much variety in the discipline. The acoustics fraternity is also quite a close knit one, and I very much enjoy the collegiate nature of it.

What project are you most proud to have worked on?
Do I have to narrow it down to just one? The project that I enjoyed working on the most was the ABC Studio project in Melbourne, because it was a fun project, it was challenging, but it had a great team on it. However, the project that I’m most proud of was the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia in Perth, which was my first serious theatre/performance venue project. I learned so much in a short period of time and we delivered a fabulous sounding space.

What attracted you to Aercoustics?
My previous company, Marshall Day Acoustics, has a longstanding relationship with Aercoustics with staff participating in an exchange program. There is a mutual respect between the two firms so I was familiar with their work and reputation for technical excellence. We wanted to relocate from Australia to Canada so in order to make that happen, I needed to find work with a reputable firm which I found with Aercoustics.

What made you want to relocate to Canada?
We visited Canada in 2019 and spent six weeks travelling the country and fell in love with its beauty. If it hadn’t been for the pandemic, we would have done it sooner. I was also keen to make a move before my son hits an age where he isn’t able to move easily due to school commitments. Life is short – I like the idea of making the most of it!

What motivates your work?
As my career has developed, I have become much more focussed on the health and wellbeing outcomes of spaces, and in particular how sound plays a part in that. Hearing is one of our five key senses, and not being able to hear clearly and intelligibly in a space is an unnecessary frustration. I get a lot of satisfaction of being able to deliver great sounding spaces and working with architects and designers to get the balance right.

Did your musical interests bring you to the industry?
No – while I own a bass guitar, I’m not very good at it! (I always wanted to play bass like Kim Deal from the Pixies, which is why my husband got it for me as a present!)

What is your dream venue to either perform or see a performance in?
I don’t think I could limit it to one. During my time in the UK, I tried to visit as many venues as possible, including some of the halls in Prague and Italy, which are stunningly beautiful. There are so many variables in a great performance that I don’t think the venue itself is the be all and end all. I definitely prefer a natural acoustic, rather than amplified performance, which I think tends to spoil the show.

What hobbies do you pursue in your spare time?
I love cycling. Love it. So, I’m currently riding to work on most days (which is fun to dodge squirrels and chipmunks), and once winter hits, I’m looking forward to getting back into Zwifting (indoor virtual cycling). I also enjoy oil painting (when I have the inclination to sit and be quiet for a few hours). And I’m very keen to do some hiking and exploring in the Canadian wilderness.

Amanda Robinson

VP Architectural Acoustics

Her love of travel and desire to see and experience new cultures has brought Amanda to Canada. So far, her work career has taken her to three different continents, seeing acoustic designs from many different perspectives.

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