KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Audio is an important part of our everyday lives. It provides us with sounds of enjoyment or importance. It can thrive on its own, and students at Pellissippi State Community College, that are studying to be audio engineers, understand this exact concept.

“Audio is a lot of times looked over by the public,” a student at Pellissippi, Charles Bell said. “I think a lot of us take it for granted and the truth of the matter is, without it, we wouldn’t have anything. It’s such an impactful part of just how life works now,” he said.

The students got to put their knowledge to the test through the Big Ears Festival, known as Knoxville’s biggest, boldest, and most dynamic festival experience, according to Visit Knoxville.

“They get four days of real-world deadlines, problems, and solutions,” Jonathan Maness, an assistant professor at Pellissippi State said. “They get to work with world-class talent, especially at Big Ears. This is the premiere of on guard music festival in the world to my understanding, and they’re going to see how professional producers, managers, and artists interact to make something amazing happen,” he said.

During the festival, one venue was run by the Pellissippi students. Maness said after 2022 was the first year that students took over the Old City Performing Arts Center, the results made him excited for more students to experience it in 2023.

“I’d take my breaks out here between sets and I’d see people come and be excited about coming in, they’d come in and breaths were being held, and there were moments happening and that’s what Big Ears is all about, putting people in the same space that never get to work in the same space and things that will never happen again get to happen,” Maness said.

From the sound checks to the actual performance, students were excited to share the skills they’ve learned in a way that became an experience for the audience.

“To me audio is emotion, and being able to manipulate audio and get a desired effect out of the crowd or just one person is a beautiful thing to me,” another audio engineer student at Pellissippi State, Julien Bennett said.

It’s not just Big Ears that give these students the opportunity to gain real-world experience, the school is also involved in Appalachia Sessions. The East Tennessee Historical Society is in charge of the initiative to bring the history of Appalachian music, culture, and education to students who are directly impacted by its history, according to the Appalachia Sessions website. It’s taped live and then shown on WATE, where viewers can enjoy a one-hour music show.

“Mischa Goldman, the audio production engineering coordinator, is the production manager of that event. So he’s placing 10-20 students in that event as well once a month and anybody that wants to join from our majors is obviously welcome and we have a great experience,” Maness said.

Regardless of where these students find themselves getting experience, Maness only hopes they will have something to take away.

“For what it’s worth, I as an audio professional have a chance in shaping somebody’s choices to find a productive career. If it’s in our field, fantastic, if they realize it’s not for them and they do some sort of peripheral thing or change their plans entirely, that’s also fantastic,” he said. “I love audio production, but I also love knowing that what we’re doing is making sure people find point A to point B.”

Learn more about Pellissippi State Community College on its website.