PREPARED FOR NOISE/NEWS INTERNATIONAL, 1998 SEPTEMBER.
The Swiss Acoustical Society, SGA/SSA, celebrated its 25th anniversary in the autumn of 1996. The society’s present Honorary President, Professor Eric J. Rathe, was one of the founding members in 1971. Since then, the Society has grown continuously. Today it has about 270 individual and 130 company members. The majority of the members are consultant engineers and practitioners, mostly in the field of environmental noise protection; only a small minority is doing research.
The aim of the society is the promotion of acoustics in Switzerland by supporting studies and research in the area of acoustics, by exchange of experience between experts, by taking positions on questions of noise control legislation, and by strengthening the cooperation of acousticians over the language borders in this multilingual country.
The most important services for the society’s members are the two conferences each year; the spring conference – usually held in the French-speaking part of Switzerland – and the autumn conference with the general assembly. Four to five times a year the society’s newsletter – bilingual in French and German – informs the members about news and topics on acoustics in Switzerland and abroad and covers lectures, courses, congresses, new publications, interesting web pages, and job offers.
There is no formal education in Acoustics in Switzerland. Therefore the society offers to its individual members the possibility to pass an examination for the title “Akustiker SGA” and thereby provides proof of their qualifications in acoustics.
As a new service SGA/SSA is starting to offer comparative measurements in order to improve the quality of its member’s work. This offer starts with the determination of the sound emission (sound power level) of a small machine and will continue in the field of building acoustics.
Regarding the fields of acoustics SGA’s members are interested in, noise control leads with building acoustics and room acoustics coming second. A majority of the members is interested in measuring technique, one third of the members list physical acoustics among their interests and one quarter name musical acoustics and electroacoustics. This priority is reflected in the choice of subjects treated at the society’s events, but other fields and applications of acoustics are neglected neither: hearing aid technology (with well-known manufacturers in Switzerland), hearing conservation at working places and during leisure time activities (Switzerland having a nation-wide legislation with sound level limits for concerts and discotheques), active noise control, speech intelligibility in churches, to name but a few (only underwater acoustic is less popular, as Switzerland has many lakes, but no access to the sea). For audio-related topics such as transducers or acoustics in recording studios, SGA has started cooperation with the Swiss section of the Audio Engineering Society (AES). On the 28th of May, a joint meeting on studio microphones was organized which included critical “blind” comparative listening sessions.
Cooperation on an international level is an obvious necessity for a small country which cannot do everything on its own: SGA/SSA is member of the European Acoustics Association EAA, the International Commission of Acoustics ICA and the International Institute of Noise Control Engineering I-INCE. Foreign speakers are heard regularly at conferences of the SGA. In March 1998, SGA hosted the German Acoustical Conference DAGA which took place at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich with more than 700 participants. Encouraged by this fruitful cooperation with one of the neighbor countries, a joint conference with the French Acoustical Society Societe Francaise d’Acoustique SFA is planned now to be held in Lausanne in the year 2000.