Purdue Polytechnic’s School of Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) has announced a collaborative partnership with Gibson Brands, Inc. and their charitable foundation, Gibson Gives. Gibson is the worldwide leader in guitar manufacturing; the National Association of Music Merchants report consistently indicates that the company maintains the largest global market share of guitar sales year-on-year.
Centered on MET's "Stringed Instrument Design and Manufacture" course led by Mark French, professor of mechanical engineering technology, the Gibson partnership is designed to bring unprecedented hands-on learning opportunities to students in Purdue Polytechnic’s eponymous “guitar lab,” newly renovated and moved to a larger space in Lambertus Hall. Gibson states that their goal is to “foster a direct pipeline of talented future luthiers and engineers, and open avenues for collaborative research and innovation in guitar design and manufacturing.”
About the partnership
As part of Gibson's commitment to excellence in musical artistry and craftsmanship, the brand is pledging formal support to the guitar lab in various ways:
- Direct monetary support, ensuring the guitar lab remains operational throughout the year. This funding also facilitates the hiring of undergraduate teaching assistants to maintain consistent operations.
- Gifting production-level guitars from Gibson's collection to be showcased in the lab, offering students a first-hand look at instruments often priced at the high end of what is commercially available.
- Provision of essential lab supplies and materials required for the design and manufacture of stringed instruments.
- Insights and experiences from Gibson's trained luthiers and industry-leading executives throughout the semester, granting students a unique perspective into the commercial side of their craftsmanship.
Starting this semester, support will extend throughout the academic year, with both Gibson and Purdue seeking to renew and fortify the partnership in subsequent years.
Gibson is embarking on its first partnership of this kind in its 121-year legacy. The company states that the decision to do so was defined by the singular nature of MET’s stringed instrument major, the “only one of its kind in higher education” in the words of Sergio Villanueva, vice president of American production for Gibson Brands.
“At Gibson, we’ve always believed in nurturing talent and innovation,” added Cesar Gueikian, Gibson’s CEO. “Partnering with Purdue Polytechnic’s MET is a testament to that belief. We’re not just investing in a program; we’re investing in the future of music and craftsmanship.”
Purdue Polytechnic’s Dean, Daniel Castro, added that “the partnership not only underscores our dedication to experiential learning, but showcases the dedication of both institutions to fostering an environment where creativity meets opportunity. Together, we are molding the next generation of leaders.”
The guitar lab
MET’s stringed instrument course is French’s brainchild. French has two decades of experience as a luthier and a preexisting industry career in mechanical engineering technology on top of his time as a professor. His longstanding interests deal with the physics of musical instruments.
In addition to an array of academic contributions, his co-authored works on guitar electronics, self-started YouTube channel and cherished collection of vintage and modern guitars have helped to make his guitar lab courses a sought-after sensation on the Purdue campus.
“The Gibson partnership is going to be an amazing tool in the toolkit of every student in the guitar lab,” French stated. “I’ve had the privilege to see so many students with such immense talent as luthiers, and granting them the ability to understand what the highest-level industry pros are doing is just going to make them that much better.”
For more information, see Gibson's press release here.
- 2022 NAMM Global Report (Abstract/executive summary free to access)
- Guitar lab student forges his own path with Polytechnic curriculum (Purdue Polytechnic newsroom)
- Mark French’s PurdueMET channel (YouTube)
- Hands-on ‘guitar lab’ is one of Purdue’s most popular courses (The Persistent Pursuit)
- Guitar-building STEM education initiative impacts 20,000 students nationwide (Purdue Polytechnic newsroom)
- Gibson Brands, Inc.: Press release on Purdue Polytechnic partnership