Students in the Sound Arts and Industries program have several opportunities to visit local companies and organizations throughout the year. This spring, they’re headed to Shure, Inc.
We asked EPICS Assistant Director Katherine Lelek and Shure’s Director of Corporate History Michael Pettersen to tell us about the trek to Shure, a world-recognized manufacturer of microphones and audio electronics.
Here’s what they say makes this Career Trek an exciting event.
1. The Equipment
Sound MA students use Shure microphones to capture field recordings, record voiceover narration, conduct field interviews and use Shure headphones for monitoring. Shure’s facility in Chicagoland doesn’t manufacture these products, but students will explore the history of the company and see examples of similar equipment and earlier iterations.
2. The Global Perspective
With facilities in Mexico, China, Germany, Hong Kong and more than 20 other countries, Shure is the first manufacturer of audio products students will visit. The Trek will give students perspective on what it’s like to be part of a global sound-focused company.
3. The Potential Career Opportunities
Lelek says students who are interested in sound history, equipment development or working internationally will be especially interested in the Shure Trek.
4. The History
As Director of Corporate History, Pettersen knows Shure inside and out. He’s been with the company for more than 41 years, and as a result, is intimately familiar with the company’s archive – comprised of every Shure product made since 1933.
Among the Shure archives are records of some of the most pivotal moments in American history dating back to the 1920s. During Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Shure microphones equipped the podium at the Lincoln Memorial. Every president since FDR has used a Shure microphone during any major address, and these microphones also made an appearance at Woodstock in 1969.
5. The Facilities
In addition to the museum and archives, which feature personal effects from the late Mr. and Mrs. Shure – including Sidney Shure’s college thesis paper – Shure is also home to a recording studio and numerous testing chambers. According to Pettersen, the test chamber is a one-of-a-kind room designed for silence when testing microphones.
6. The Destruction-Proof Technology
Microphones take sound energy and turn it into electrical energy. While this explanation is simplified, Pettersen says the work that goes into building a quality microphone is complicated. Students will find out how many people it takes to build a Shure microphone and the extremes the company goes to when testing their products. Shure mics are frozen, cooked and even dripped with artificial sweat to ensure proper functioning.
7. The Legacy
Shure has been in business for the last 90+ years. The company’s dedication to quality has produced reliable products since 1929 and established Shure as the best in the business. Pettersen says microphones used during World War II still function to this day. Another mic, nicknamed the “Elvis Mic” and introduced in 1939, is still produced today. Unlike modern phones or TVs, Shure equipment has weathered the test of time.
8. The Network
Students can ask questions about internships with Shure and explore company culture. Pettersen has been with the company for many years, and will provide insights on why when people come to work for Shure, they don’t want to leave. Despite the low turnover rate, Shure is growing and creating opportunities in product development and engineering – positions Northwestern students could fill one day.