Charles Linn
School of Architecture & Design

Architecture lecturer honored for educational excellence

Tue, 08/07/2012

Robert Coffeen

LAWRENCE — Robert Coffeen, lecturer and adjunct associate professor in the University of Kansas School of Architecture, Design and Planning, has been awarded the Education Excellence Award by the Bose Corporation's Professional Systems Division. The award honors individuals who show "passionate commitment to advancing industry through education."

"Bose has been so impressed with Bob's blending of the arts of audio and architecture; that's backed by solid science," said Scott Sanders, national acoustical consultants representative for the company.

Other honors for Coffeen include the prestigious Acoustical Society of America's Rossing Prize for Education in Acoustics, which he received in 2011.

The professor is well-known to students in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning for his ingenious audio demonstrations and talent for making the complex physics of sound understandable without watering it down.

"He's really hands-on," said graduate student Nicholas Elster, of Overland Park. "He shows us how things work rather than just having us read about them in a book."

Coffeen began teaching at KU in 1992 after operating his own acoustics consulting firm in Leawood for more than 35 years. During his tenure the firm completed more than 3,000 projects all over the world.

Several dozen of Coffeen's former students are now employed in the acoustics field professionally.

"I believe that we have guided more students into acoustical consulting careers in the last 15 years than any other university in the country," he said.

Coffeen also teaches the basic environmental systems classes required for all architecture students.

"Any architect should be able to walk into a space and look at the materials there and figure out what the room is going to sound like. Most KU architecture graduates can, and that's unusual," he said.

That reflects Coffeen's background as a consultant. "I teach the our students what they need to know to work in the real world," he said, "not just the fluff."

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