Thursday, February 25, 2010

Engineered Pan at UWI

The Faculty of Engineering at UWI is proud to announce the first workshop on steelpan tuning for students registered in Science and Engineering. The first workshop was held on February 4. The workshop is a substantial part of the course, ENGR3000 The Technology of the Steelpan, which has been offered to students of the University since 2000. Workshops are held every Thursday afternoon from 4 pm to 7 pm. In previous offerings of the course, the workshop component was conducted by tuner Jimi Phillip, who now tutors in the Pan in Schools programme. Students were simply required to observe and record the process.

As of this year, 2010, students are now required to fabricate their own steelpan—one that they will be able to take away at the end of the course. These workshops are conducted by master tuner Denzil Fernandez, creator of the Bore Pan. The practical workshop is complemented by weekly two-hour lectures covering key aspects of current knowledge in steelpan technology: metallurgy, geometry, acoustics, vibration characteristics inclusive of modal properties, stick technology, construction and manufacture. The very first lecture included an introduction to steelpan music history and was presented by Dr Kim Johnson. The course ends with a look at significant recent developments.

According to course leader, Prof Brian Copeland, co-ordinator of the Steelpan Initiatives Project (SIP) and chairman of Panadigm Innovations Ltd, makers of the G-Pan and PHI precision musical instruments, ENGR3000 is in keeping with the primary aim of developing a strong and vibrant steelpan industry in T&T and the wider Caribbean. He noted that while the SIP’s emphasis had, thus far, been on the critical technological aspects, there was an urgent and immediate need for the nurturing of a cadre of young tuners who, as is the case of tier foreign counterparts, are highly qualified in the arts and sciences. Copeland also noted that the course has been high in demand since it was advertised in January 2010; however enrolment was restricted to eight students, given the hands-on nature of the course and the need for individual tutoring by the Master Tuner.

Further details on ENGR300 are available at the course website