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Lighting Research Center
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Troy, NY -  5/15/2001

Lighting Research Center and GE Fund, GE Lighting Launch Program to Increase Minority Recruitment

Ceremony honors African-American Inventor Lewis Howard Latimer, who helped Thomas Edison develop light bulb

Increasing the number of minorities working in the lighting industry is the goal of two GE Fund and GE Lighting grants, totaling $140,000, presented to the Lighting Research Center on May 15, 2001. On hand for the presentation ceremony was the granddaughter of a man who beat the odds to help Thomas Edison develop the light bulb.

120 years ago, Lewis Howard Latimer, an African-American Civil War veteran whose parents had escaped from slavery, worked on a team that assisted Thomas Edison in developing the electric light bulb. Edison struggled with filaments that burned out after barely more than a day's use. Latimer solved that problem by developing a carbon filament-and we've lived in a brighter world ever since.

To honor this remarkable man, the Lighting Research Center and GE Lighting dedicated the "Lewis Howard Latimer Research Conference Room" at the research facility in Troy. Matthew Espe, President and CEO of GE Lighting presented the scholarship grants at the dedication ceremony. "The aim of these grants is to have better prepared, broader, more diverse students who challenge our ways of thinking, driving us into the future and making us better than we are today," said Espe.

The GE Fund is a $20 million, 10-year investment to increase the number of minorities and women in business, engineering, and science. The funding for the LRC will provide a full scholarship each year to a minority student in the MS in Lighting program. The LRC will use the remainder of the funds to attract minority students to the program.

Winifred Latimer Norman, Ph.D., Lewis Latimer's granddaughter, is a retired social worker, who, in addition to working for social justice worldwide, promotes awareness of her grandfather's contributions to society. She saved her grandfather's house from demolition and turned it into a museum in Flushing, New York.

Perhaps few Americans know of Lewis Latimer's role in the development of technology, including the fact that he assisted Alexander Graham Bell in patenting the first telephone…or that he invented a water closet for use on trains, as well as a forerunner to air conditioning.

In addition to Dr. Norman and Matthew Espe, speakers included Fred Miller, President and CEO of Kaleel Jamison Consulting Group, Mark Rea, Director of the LRC, and Howard Brandston, adjunct professor at the LRC. Among the many Rensselaer officials attending the dedication ceremony was Deborah Nazon, RPI class of 1985, assistant provost for institute diversity. Ms. Nazon serves as executive director of Rensselaer's Diversity Advisory Board.


About the Lighting Research Center
The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the world's leading center for lighting research and education. Established in 1988 by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the LRC has been pioneering research in solid-state lighting, light and health, transportation lighting and safety, and energy efficiency for nearly 30 years. LRC lighting scientists with multidisciplinary expertise in research, technology, design, and human factors, collaborate with a global network of leading manufacturers and government agencies, developing innovative lighting solutions for projects that range from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to U.S. Navy submarines to hospital neonatal intensive-care units. LRC researchers conduct independent, third-party testing of lighting products in the LRC's state of the art photometric laboratories, the only university lighting laboratories accredited by the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP Lab Code: 200480-0). In 1990, the LRC became the first university research center to offer graduate degrees in lighting and today, offers a M.S. in lighting and a Ph.D. to educate future leaders in lighting. With 35 full-time faculty and staff, 15 graduate students, and a 30,000 sq. ft. laboratory space, the LRC is the largest university-based lighting research and education organization in the world.

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is America’s first technological research university. The university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in engineering; the sciences; information technology and web sciences; architecture; management; and the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Rensselaer faculty advance research in a wide range of fields, with an emphasis on biotechnology, nanotechnology, computational science and engineering, data science, and the media arts and technology. The Institute has an established record of success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace, fulfilling its founding mission of applying science “to the common purposes of life.”