Fishing for quality lighting

Robb Allen, AIA, IES, helps engineers notice the art and science of lighting.

04/08/2011


Who: Robb Allen, AIA, IES

What: Founder and President, Clear Stream Studio, LLC

Where: Green Bay, Wis.

About: Allen is a licensed architect, industrial designer, and lighting and optical design consultant with more than 25 years of experience. He founded Clear Stream Studio in 2002 to bring his multidisciplinary services and experiences to a diverse customer base of corporate and manufacturing clients. He has spent half of his life designing and managing commercial facilities projects, and the other half designing furniture and lighting product solutions for several original equipment manufacturers.

Q. When you first wanted to be something in life, what was it?

A. An archaeologist. There was something fascinating to me about new discoveries and the outdoor work environment.

Q. What changed your path? Or what helped keep you on that path?

A. In a way I’ve always been on a path of discovery throughout my career. As an architect, lighting/daylighting consultant, and product designer, I’ve been able to share my discoveries and experiences with a diverse group of clients. While spending my career designing the built environment and products within it, I still just want to be outdoors as much as possible.

Q. If you weren’t a lighting designer, what would you be professionally?

A. I can truly say I am living my dream professionally; there is nothing as satisfying as owning and directing your own company to fulfill its mission. Mine is pretty simple: “Listen, do great work, do what you say you will do,” and people will come back for more.

Q. What is working well in the lighting design profession?

A. I think slowly but surely the architectural/engineering and facilities communities are realizing there is a lot to the art and science of lighting. The more informed people are, the better questions they ask, and the more engaged they get in the potential of lighting to impact energy consumption, the higher the quality of work and the visual experience of architecture.

Q. What is not working well in the lighting design profession?

A. In general, we historically have had a very “dumbed down” lighting culture in the United States. Dialogue like the following in architecture/engineering offices throughout the land for decades has sounded hauntingly similar to: “Throw some rectangles and circles down on the lighting plan, the rep will tell us what to specify, they’ll buy us some crappy sandwiches, and we’ll all be fine.” We can do better—and are, one project at a time.

Q. What one piece of advice would you give to someone considering a career in lighting design or electrical engineering?

A. Get into it, learn everything you can, share it throughout your life. If you aren’t passionate about this or anything you do, why bother? A career is a long time, so “skill up” and enjoy it.

Q. What’s the future of lighting design or lighting products? Where do you see the industry in 5 to 10 years?

A. I see a U.S. lighting industry 5 to 10 years behind Europe and Asia in its implementation of important technologies, policies, and long-term decision making. The United States is about now: How much does it cost today? Will it affect my sales budget or expense budget or capital budget today? Europe and Asia take a much longer view of the world, our experience in it, and what we leave behind. In 2006, I could have implemented 60,000- to 80,000-hour life fluorescent lamp technology in Europe. Please let me know when I can implement that here in the United States—we’re going on 5 years and counting.

Q. How would your coworkers or clients describe you?

A. Enjoys what he does, detailed, creative, good problem solver, expects excellence.

Q. What life adventure is still on your list?

A. Driving through the Alps with my wife, seeing, hearing, tasting, and feeling the ages course through my veins.

Q. What one word best describes you?

A. Creative.

Q. What makes you laugh?

A. Marketing jargon. It permeates our lives and means nothing; it’s tailored to sound sweet and bamboozle us into thinking it’s actually relevant.

Q. What do you wonder about?

A. I wonder why so many people are ill-informed, why LEDs still look “ghostly,” why sales reps can make 5 times what a lighting professional can make in a year, if my bout with cancer is gone for good, and how can I make a difference.

Q. Where is the best place you’ve ever been, and who were you with?

A. The mouth of the Bois Brule River in northern Wisconsin casting the surf at twilight with two older men I had never met. I stood enjoying my every cast while remaining fishless. As they were leaving, one of the men drifted away with his single trout, and the other—who had two trout on his stringer—walked across the riptide and offered me a true gift. As he reached out to me, presenting the most beautiful trout I’ve ever seen shimmering in the low setting sun, he simply said, “Every man should have a fish,” then turned and disappeared into the mist across the other bank.

Q. What do you want to learn more about?

A. How to share with everyone I work with the essence of that evening on the Bois Brule River.



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