Hello fellow scientists! So begins our exciting 3M mentorship journey to project finalization. However, the construction of a useful idea, especially one engineered through scientific research, is both a formidable logistic and creative challenge. I often find that exploring a multitude of ideas often results in clear, orderly, and open-ended solution. In the words of distinguished chemist and author Linus Pauling, “The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.”

The problem of noise pollution is a vast one, usually found where there are lots of people, lots of machines, or both. The need to reduce offensive noise is a question of both comfort and safety. Three traditional solutions are noise-cancelling panels and materials, personal noise cancelling headphones and active noise cancellation systems. From my observations, these solutions don’t meet the real problems because of their cost, inflexibility or inability to scale.

At home, noise pollution is a personal challenge, often caused by home devices like appliances and nearby traffic. At work or school, noise is a public challenge, with lots of frequencies and personal perspectives, making it challenging to create a one-size-fits-all solution. In open air settings without boundaries, the problem is even worse as it is difficult to control external noise variables with traditional approaches.

I worked with my mentor to discuss the industrial, commercial and consumer challenges and benefits of reducing noise pollution in an effort to narrow down the observable problem sets to a workable target for my solution. The feedback and analysis I received was invaluable and I'm ready to focus on the next steps. Stay tuned to next week to learn more!