Rose-Hulman could be helping develop the next Thomas Edison by
encouraging the next generation of inventors through a national
smart lighting initiative.
The Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center (ERC) is dedicated
to developing new light-emitting diode (LED) technologies and
applications for smarter, better-performing lighting devices and
These smart lighting systems are poised to revolutionize
lighting by creating immersive lighting systems that can sense
their environment to provide new levels of energy efficiency,
health and safety benefits, and enhanced workplace
Launched in 2008 and funded primarily by the National Science
Foundation, the ERC is led by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
(RPI). Rose-Hulman has been one of the ERC's outreach partners for
the past two years, and students and faculty members will become
immersed in more complicated research projects this school year.
These projects will create better LEDs, as well as new sensors and
systems required to effectively monitor and control them.
"We're on the cutting edge of this exciting new technology and
the possibilities are endless. Our students are learning new things
every day," said Charles Joenathan, head of the Department of
Physics and Optical Engineering.
The department hosted a conference this summer to bring ERC's
outreach partners up to date on students' developments in the
project. Seven students created education modules to showcase
optics technology, assisted by Joenathan and faculty colleagues Rob
Bunch and Azad Siahmakoun. These modules will be featured on
YouTube in hopes of inspiring high-school and middle-school
students toward careers in physics and optical engineering.
"Rose-Hulman is a valuable asset to our smart lighting
initiative. The students have done some great work so far, and
we're looking forward to more contributions as the project goes
forward," says Ken Connor, an RPI professor and ERC official.
"Getting Rose-Hulman involved with ERC, we're getting students at
the undergraduate level that have promising futures in optics and
Other educational outreach partners have been Howard University
and Morgan State University. Core ERC university partners are
Boston University and the University of New Mexico. Industry
partners, ranging from major lighting firms to small startup firms,
help to guide strategic planning, spur innovation and provide
students with first-hand experience in entrepreneurship as well as
corporate research and development. ■