Internship with Dr. Frank Clark on 3D Printed Flute

Photo: Left Victoria Kraj, right Dr. Frank Clark.

by Victoria Kraj
Feb 8, 2017

“All good things usually start with paperwork,” is what Dr. Frank Clark, Chair of the Georgia Tech School of Music, said to me as he began signing off on my school’s internship permission forms to be my mentor. Now that I think about it, those words foreshadowed my experience at Georgia Tech’s Center for Music Technology Department.

My name is Victoria Kraj, and I am currently a senior at Wheeler High School’s STEM Magnet Program located in Marietta, Georgia. The capstone courses of this program are Magnet Internship and Research, which are what allowed me to bustle to and from Tech everyday in Atlanta traffic. I had a normal routine as an intern. Mondays I would attend Dr. Alexander Lerch’s Introduction to Audio Technology course. I would then scurry off at the end of the class to make it to seminar 7100. Tuesday’s and Thursday’s were hands-on days where I spent my time in Dr. Jason Freeman’s lab advised by Dr. Anna Xambó and Léa Ikkache. These two incredible women set me up on the program that Freeman’s lab created called EarSketch. It taught the basics of Python through programming music. On these days, I would go through the curriculum and leave comments as well as write my own music. Léa Ikkache and Tyler White helped me record a piece I composed for flute and piccolo in the Georgia Tech recording studio, and I was able to upload my sounds to EarSketch and play around with coding in different effects. Lastly, on Fridays I would have a weekly discussion with Dr. Timothy Hsu on my research project. Then I would sit in on Tyler White’s 3rd Arm Drummer Group, which fell under Dr. Gil Weinberg’s VIP (Vertically Integrated Projects) Robotics course.

A unique part of my experience was that my research class at school tied into my weekly meetings with Dr. Timothy Hsu. Before securing my internship, I had my heart set on researching and implementing a 3D printed flute. Dr. Frank Clark made that possible by getting me these one-on-one times with Dr. Hsu, who introduced me to Benade’s Fundamentals of Musical Acoustics and Rossing’s The Science of Sound. These books primarily guided my instrument design understanding, and allowed me to more accurately CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) my flute.

Highlights of my research project on a 3D printed flute include: (1) disassembling a broken student flute belonging to the Wheeler High School Band Program and repairing it (figure one), and (2) innovating the flute key mechanism by implementing repelling magnets instead of springs (figure two), as well as conducting surveys with the flutists in the Wind Ensemble at Wheeler High School to determine the most comfortable lip plate and embouchure hole of numerous designs that I CADed. Figures three and four respectively show the best playing flute and the best flute in terms of design, and moving in the future I wish to expand my project to a full-length concert flute. In conclusion, this internship enriched my experience in STEAM, and I will continue pursuing my passion next year as an undergraduate in the Music Technology program at Georgia Tech.

Figure 1. Disassembling a broken student flute.
Figure 2. Innovating the flute key mechanism.
Figure 3. Best playing flute.
Figure 4. Best design flute.

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