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CSD Undergraduate Student and Team Members Win $10,000 Innovation Competition

  • Author: Leigh-Anne Roden-Carrier
  • Author: Friday, April 7th, 2017
CSD Undergraduate Student and Team Members Win $10,000 Innovation Competition


Lexington, KY – The Fifth Annual Alltech Innovation Competition was held last Saturday, April 1st, 2017 in Lexington, KY.  Graduate and undergraduate students from seven Kentucky universities pitched their business ideas to investors.  Participating universities included University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, University of Pikeville, Western Kentucky University, Morehead State University, Eastern Kentucky University, and Bellarmine University.  The event gives out two $10,000 awards (one to graduates and one to undergraduates).

Communication Sciences and Disorders Undergraduate Student, Taylor Wathen, was a member of WKU’s team, which also included Blake Knott (Mechanical Engineering major) and Zachary Wathen (Computer Science major).  Taylor’s team won the first place $10,000 prize for the undergraduate category with their business idea, Tech Gnar.  The program uses an algorithm that measures isolated vocals, isolated instrumentals, and the song in its entirety to suggest songs tailored to a user’s specific musical interests (based on songs he/she likes).  Tech Gnar can also filter certain instruments within a song.  If a user wants a song with a saxophone, the program algorithm uses the specific sound measurements for saxophones and will recommend other songs containing the instrument.

Taylor used knowledge gained from her Science of Speech and Hearing, Audiology, and Phonetics courses to assist with the algorithm development.  She stated, “Our team was continually dissatisfied with suggestions from current music technology.  My knowledge of measuring sound from the Science of Speech and Hearing course and Audiology course offered by WKU’s CSD Department allowed me to understand that sound – in this case music – can be measured.  My knowledge from Phonetics also helped us understand that vocals and instrumentals have very different measurements (such as hertz and decibels).  Blake used the sound measurements I found in a song and created an algorithm.  It can automatically find the measurements in 771 different places in a piece of music.”  Unlike other music technology, which recommends songs based on genre or musician, it uses mathematical measurements to recommend songs based on how songs sound. 

They are planning to launch their website and an app at the end of the year.  For now, you can learn more about Tech Gnar by following them on Facebook:  www.fb.com/TechGnarstudio/ 

Learn more about WKU Communication Sciences and Disorders program by visiting their website: http://www.wku.edu/communicationdisorders/

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