Choose to become a lighting engineer

Do you have what it takes to become a lighting designer? Here are some key attributes you’ll need.

11/28/2012


Light is as essential as food, clothing, and shelter for living things. Creating the best illumination is both an art and a science. It is not a do-it-yourself activity because there are too many variables and the technology changes almost daily. This is a lifelong, in-demand job—rewarding both personally and financially. It offers the opportunity to use imagination. Light is like music—fast and slow, loud and soft, with unforgettable rhythm and melody.

A lighting engineer is a detective, needed for construction, architectural history, business, culture, archeology, science, and research. Now there is the added requirement for an energy-efficient, sustainable environment; lighting is the easiest of electrical building’s engineered systems with which to conserve energy, enhance design, increase productivity, boost safety, and improve quality of life.

Caveat No. 1: Excessive energy conservation without increased productivity will fail. People will always find ways to circumvent unwanted or impractical restrictions. The lighting engineer should be able to present ideas clearly to the decision-maker, without using words like “photons” or other unfamiliar technical terms.

A lighting designer is a fixer who can eliminate bad lighting. Poor illumination could be hot, too dim, too bright, glaring, misfocused, wrong style/color/period, obtrusive, energy-guzzling, or just plain ugly. It wastes money, plus causes distress for sufferers of health problems. Emergency lighting must also be included in the lighting engineer’s scope. Thus, the lighting engineer is also a protector.

Of course, an engineer must be technically competent, knowing the basic physical rules of light along with national codes and standards for safety. The U.S. Dept. of Energy findings have to be followed and state and local regulations considered.

In addition to being aware of all the most energy-efficient lighting tools for a particular application, the lighting designer also has to know the appropriate controls and interfaces to connect different technologies properly.

Caveat No. 2: One size or type lighting does not fit all. Unless a number of like projects are done at the same time, the design engineer has to be an innovator to prepare plans and specifications to address unique features. To design, specify, and watch over a project, accepted procedures for both architectural and theatrical lighting are used. Combining the two may achieve the best results. There are automated or manual methods for special effects of color, motion, and dimming. Lighting also can be combined with other systems, like HVAC, for central control.

At all times, the three Cs of construction—communication, coordination, and cooperation—with the entire team show the best way to proceed, and to avoid disruptive interaction with adjacent systems, like air conditioning, life safety systems, etc. This makes the engineer a good team member.

The engineer also has to be a checker. Every completed project should be reviewed to see if it was finished on time and on budget, and met the client’s expectations. Seeing what was done right, what could have been done better, and what should not be repeated is the final step. This makes the next activity easier.

Ability to think on your feet quickly is a must when unexpected problems arise. Other trades could be delayed until alternate solutions are produced.

Finally, whether working as an independent entrepreneur or as part of a firm, the engineer has to add value to the business for it to prosper. Thus, as well as technical expertise, the engineer has to bring something more to the job so it is profitable.


Gersil Kay is president and founder of Conservation Lighting International and Building Conservation International. She is a member of the IESNA Board of Directors and is a past member of professional affiliations and societies including IAEI, AIA's Historic Resources Committee, ICOMOS, and International Council on Art Deco Societies. She is a member of the Consulting-Specifying Engineer editorial advisory board.  



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
World-class maintenance: The three keys to success - Deploy people, process and technology; 2016 Lubrication Guide; Why hydraulic systems get hot
Your leaks start here: Take a disciplined approach with your hydraulic system; U.S. presence at Hannover Messe a rousing success
Hannover Messe 2016: Taking hold of the future - Partner Country status spotlights U.S. manufacturing; Honoring manufacturing excellence: The 2015 Product of the Year Winners
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Improving flowmeter calibration; Selecting flowmeters for natural gas; Case study: Streamlining assembly systems using PC-based control; CLPM: Improving process efficiency, throughput
Putting COPS into context; Designing medium-voltage electrical systems; Planning and designing resilient, efficient data centers; The nine steps of designing generator fuel systems
Warehouse winter comfort: The HTHV solution; Cooling with natural gas; Plastics industry booming

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me