ISMA International Conference on Noise and Vibration Engineering

What nowadays is known as the ISMA International Conference on Noise and Vibration Engineering started out in the 70ies as the International Seminar on Modal Analyses (ISMA).

As this conference started in Leuven, and is still Leuven based, Leuven Convention Bureau talked about this with Dr. Bert Pluymers of the KU Leuven Mecha(tro)nic System Dynamics (LMSD) division.

Dr. Pluymers, can you tell us about the background of the conference?

The first ISMA event was organized as a seminar by the KU Leuven MKP (Mechanische Konstruktie en Produktie) division in 1975 . Due to expansion of the seminar it was decided in 1988 to organise a spin-out biennial conference. Meanwhile, the yearly ISMA seminar is also still organised. In the mid-90s the KU Leuven Applied & Numerical Acoustics Course (ISAAC) started and takes place simultaneously with the ISMA seminar. The ISMA conference nowadays also expanded with the Uncertainty Structural Dynamics (USD) conference. The themes are linked and currently 8 parallel (7 ISMA & 1 USD) sessions are taking place during the conference.

The conference, while very internationally oriented, has always taken place in Leuven. Can you explain the reason for this?

This has been an organic development. Both the ISMA seminar and conference originate from the Noise and Vibration research group (now LMSD division) of the KU Leuven Mechanical Engineering Department. We used to host ISMA in the buildings of the Department on campus Arenberg. When ISMA got bigger we switched to College De Valk in the centre of Leuven. In 2014 ISMA became also too big for this location and it is organised since then at the Faculty of Social Sciences. In 2018 we welcomed 700 participants to Leuven. In all these years we simply never thought about hosting ISMA outside Leuven, with the exception of 1985 when we organised an edition of the ISMA seminar in Firenze in collaboration with the university of Firenze.

Inspired by the vision of our Honorary Chair Prof. Paul Sas and our former Conference Secretary Lieve Notré, our research group is taking pride in organizing ISMA ourself with our team of researchers. We are convinced that participating in the organisation of ISMA and attending the lectures is a unique experience for our PhD students, and in addition it gives us the possibility to showcase our research results, connect with industry leaders and world-wide excellence and gain extra knowledge.

Additionally, our participants are always looking forward to coming back to Leuven every other year, for them it is a happy reunion with the city. Leuven is indeed an ideal conference location: excellent international travel connections, wide choice of hotels and a vibrant university site with a rich history and a fantastic atmosphere. Due to Corona the 2020 edition of ISMA took place virtually. It was a shame that participants could not experience Leuven. Though, with the support of the Conference Office of KU Leuven we were able to select an appropriate digital platform and have a successful virtual conference. The collaboration with all different partners at KU Leuven and in Leuven is great.

What everybody should know about (KU) Leuven is…

On a professional level we should emphasize that Leuven has a vibrant ecosystem regarding noise and vibration engineering. This includes KU Leuven and its many spinoffs, the largest in our field being LMS (part now of Siemens and still located at research park Haasrode), the most recent being SoundTalks. But also knowledge partners such as Flanders Make, the strategic research centre for the manufacturing industry, of which LMSD is a part and delivers Core Labs focussing on research and services in the field of engineering dynamics, testifies to Leuven being internationally recognised in the field of noise and vibration as a beacon of knowledge and expertise.

The charm of hosting the conference here is that Leuven is an intimate city. As already mentioned Leuven also has a fantastic atmosphere. An important ‘engineering’ factor is that Leuven is linked 1:1 with Stella Artois. Leuven truly is a the beer capital of the world. Therefore, the first evening of our conference we host a beer welcome reception in the Jubileumzaal. The second evening we organise a dinner in the Faculty Club, a heritage location with international prestige. And after a busy conference day we always come together on the Oude Markt to enjoy a drink. So many different people together creates a very special dynamic and networking happens automatically. The authentic character that Leuven holds of both science and entertainment is unlike any other town.

The charm of hosting the conference here is that Leuven is an intimate city. As already mentioned Leuven also has a fantastic atmosphere.

- Dr. Bert Pluymers, KU Leuven