Study-abroad course dives into engineering unique musical instrument

Four students are currently in Trinidad and Tobago designing prototypes for the Caribbean country’s national musical instrument in the new course “Engineering the Steelpan,” taught by electrical and computer engineering faculty member Marianne Hromalik.

Hromalik, who hails from Trinidad and Tobago, earned a SUNY Chancellor’s Grant for Innovative Study-Abroad Programs for 2017-18 to support creation of the course and to defray costs of the four students traveling. The instrument, which resembles a steel drum, has “a very complex shell” that involves layering to create a distinct sound, Hromalik explained. “There is a lot of folk knowledge about it but not a lot of scientific knowledge.”

The students will work with Hromalik to create a model, a blueprint for building a…

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