Georgia Tech Grad Plays Fight Song on His Mortarboard
Nathan Batey, an electrical engineering major, built a working synthesizer atop his cap, and used it to play Georgia Tech’s fight song.
“Music has always been a passion for me,” says new Georgia Tech graduate Nathan Batey.
Batey grew up in rural Whigham, Georgia, a four-hour drive south of Atlanta. It’s almost as far away from Tech’s campus as you can get while staying in the confines of the state. At the age of 9, he started playing old-time bluegrass and gospel music on the fiddle. At Cairo High School, he started learning piano. Since then, he’s added the organ, mandolin, and synthesizer to his repertoire.
Coming to Georgia Tech as an electrical engineering student, Nathan sought different opportunities to keep music a part of his journey. He took a position at Georgia Tech’s WREK radio station and hosted his own weekly bluegrass show called The Back Alley Pork Roost. And he was part of the music team at the Wesley Foundation.
Music also worked its way into Nathan's academic career. He participated in undergraduate research with Timothy Hsu in the School of Music and helped model historical venues to establish a better understanding of their acoustic qualities. One of Batey’s last electrical engineering courses at Tech was Analog Circuits for Music Synthesis with professor Aaron Lanterman.
“I highly recommend the course for anyone interested in analog circuits or music,” says Batey. That course, coupled with his love for music, inspired his one-of-a-kind mortarboard for graduation.
Batey built a working synthesizer atop his cap and used it to play Georgia Tech’s fight song. He sourced the keys and speaker on the internet, disassembling a toy piano. He used a protoboard for the power supply, and an oscillator and breadboard for a large adjustable bank of resistors used to tune the oscillator.
All the tech talk aside, it’s a pretty cool Georgia Tech graduation accessory.
“I’m just happy it ended up working,” Batey laughed. After graduation, Batey will be staying in Atlanta to work for Southern Company where he interned twice as an undergraduate. In the future, he’s planning to return to Georgia Tech to pursue an MBA — and possibly build a few more synths.