In five days, these teachers will be transforming a kit of spruce, mahogany, ebony, laser-cut plywood, and steel into something one-of-a-kind, and their classroom is the woodworking shop in Wilson-Wallis Hall, home to several Engineering Technology programs.
It all leads to one fantastic product when, on Friday, the teachers will leave the STEM Guitar Project’s Acoustic Workshop with a custom-built acoustic guitar they have spent the week constructing. The workshop is hosted by the ETSU Guitar Building Program. The STEM Guitar Project out of Dayton, Ohio, is an initiative funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to increase student engagement by instructing teachers how to incorporate designing, and building custom electric and acoustic guitars in grade school and college STEM programs.
Bill Hemphill, a faculty member in ETSU’s College of Business and Technology, has been involved in the initiative for over a decade and recently received a multidisciplinary grant to bring acoustic guitar building to ETSU. Last month, the NSF announced that the STEM Guitar Project was being extended into 2021. He said ETSU was then asked to host the week-long workshop as a result of the collaborative work that ETSU’s Engineering, Engineering Technology, Surveying and Interior Architecture department and the Bluegrass, Old-Time and Country Music Studies program did this past spring.
The three nationally recognized workshop instructors and the 11 participants are helping Hemphill evaluate many of the innovative tools developed at ETSU last spring semester to make acoustic guitar building more reliable and affordable for schools and colleges.
An acoustic guitar building course will also be offered by ETSU this fall.