UHart Acoustics Students Partner with Back East Brewing

July 11, 2022

This story was featured in the recent issue of H magazine:

What do you get when you take a festive atmosphere filled with conversation and music and put it in a room made of cement walls, concrete floors, and metal ceilings? A lot of noise.

Confusion might also be an accurate word. It’s a recipe with which the owners of the Back East Brewery of Bloomfield, Conn., were not pleased—and knew they wanted to change. With assistance from University of Hartford students, change is definitely afoot.

The University’s acoustical engineering program has been challenged with planning new and improved audio quality for the popular nearby brewery.

UHart has two programs that offer students a way to incorporate acoustics into an undergraduate engineering degree—the only accredited university program of its kind in the country. A small group of students from the program visited the taproom a number of times to evaluate everything from its size and construction components, to its configuration and occupancy capability. They’ll combine all that with their knowledge of how sound is produced, how it travels and bounces, and how our own auditory systems respond, and then make recommendations that the owners can use to improve the acoustics of the taproom.

Back East, which recently expanded into a 20,000-square-foot combination brewery and taproom, plans to bring back live music events. Good audio quality is a must.

Groundwork for the partnership developed a while back when Back East’s Tony Karlowicz met UHart’s Shane Ciccarelli ’00, M’04, through a mutual friend. Karlowicz is co-founder of Back East Brewery with his cousin Ed Sabrycki, and Ciccarelli is an associate dean of admission at the University of Hartford.

As Karlowicz explains, “One day Ed, Shane, and I were hanging out at our place with some friends. I began to express my frustration that when we have live music, no one is able to hear it because of all the crazy echoes.”

Ciccarelli told them about UHart’s acoustical engineering program, and a plan was made for students to come by to assess the situation.

“These students are receiving the equivalent of a real internship,” notes Christopher Jasinski ’12, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Acoustical Engineering at UHart’s College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture (CETA). “Not only is the practical experience invaluable, but it will be quite a bonus for their résumés once they leave school.”

Karlowicz remembers one of the first visits. “The students were popping balloons,” he recalls, “which had something to do with the measurement of sound. It was very interesting. This is a terrific opportunity both for them and for us.”

Some acoustics students at CETA already have some practical experience, having assessed a conference room at the town hall in Sharon, Connecticut, and a multipurpose room in Auerbach Hall on the UHart campus. But this is the program’s first taproom.

Before long, Karlowicz and Sabrycki will hear more than just balloons popping. Between patrons laughing, glasses clinking, singers crooning, and instruments wailing, Back East Brewery’s live music plans will soon be ready to rock and roll once again.

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