Lewis Berman researches the how auditory signals can improve aircraft navigation: Meet the Professor - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Feb. 25, 2013 9:30 am

Lewis Berman researches the how auditory signals can improve aircraft navigation: Meet the Professor

This is Technically Baltimore’s Meet the Professor, a new, regular series highlighting the research of professors at universities in the Baltimore region. A professor of computer science at Loyola University Maryland, Lewis Berman researches how non-verbal sounds can be used to help computer users develop software, something that draws from his other talents of pianist and […]

This is Technically Baltimore’s Meet the Professor, a new, regular series highlighting the research of professors at universities in the Baltimore region.

A professor of computer science at Loyola University MarylandLewis Berman researches how non-verbal sounds can be used to help computer users develop software, something that draws from his other talents of pianist and composer.

The interesting twist to this all? Berman’s research also looks at how non-verbal sounds can create data patterns to assist pilots navigate aircraft.

Age/Sex/Location: 57/male/Homeland 

Tell us how long you’ve been a professor, and what you presently teach:

I have run the graduate programs in computer science and software engineering at Loyola for four years. This position entails some teaching. I have recently taught graduate courses in human-computer Interaction, networking, and digital forensics. Fall 2013 I am scheduled to teach a section of a course for undergraduate, non-CS-majors focusing on digital forensics.

Tell us about the research you’re doing now:

My primary area of interest is sonification and auditory display, the use of non-speech sound to communicate data patterns and help the user perform tasks. Specifically, I have been researching:

  1. Sound in user interfaces for developing software, and
  2. Sound in aircraft guidance and navigation by pilots.

This research combines my background as a Ph.D. in Computer Science and as a composer and pianist.

I am also working on several musical compositions, one involving computer-generated music.

What are three takeaways from your research?

  1. Sound can be used effectively in place of visual information in certain situations, offloading the visual clutter in our work environments.
  2. Some tasks may actually be performed better through the use of sound. (I am working to show that in aircraft guidance.)
  3. We are, in general, probably too specialized in our research. We need to be trained in multiple disciplines and look across them, returning somewhat to the “Renaissance man” concept. 

What does an average day at work look like for you?

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There is no truly typical day. I counsel and advise existing and prospective graduate students. I develop material aimed at recruiting and retaining graduate students, publishing a lot of it on the web.

Currently I am involved in producing several short videos, and I otherwise deal with advanced media (e.g., social media, video, interactive web applications) for recruiting, retention and informational purposes.

I attend professional meetings in the evening and often give talks about technical subjects, such as design patterns in software development, audio editors and computer-generated music and sound. I work with students on my research and on developing applications for the CS department. I manage to do some research or write some music each day, and I practice works I am performing on the piano.

What’s a lesson you’ve learned from your time as a professor that’s applicable to people who don’t have to grade papers and tests?

Pursue the interests that you are passionate about, and make time for them. In the course of that, don’t listen to those who would negatively persuade you.

Can you recommend someone—not from your industry—in the Baltimore scene that we should know about?

My brother Michael Berman is a senior technical lead at Northrop Grumman, where he leads software development projects involving advanced cockpit systems for next-generation aircraft. 

A contact for readers who might want to reach out:

E-mail: liberman@loyola.edu. On Facebook: Lewis Berman, Baltimore, Maryland

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