Advancing the effective use of light for society and the environment.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

LED Lighting Institute Trains Professionals for ‘Next Generation Lighting’ in Successful Hands-on Seminar
The Lighting Research Center and ASSIST educate participants about applications, techniques, and best cases for success with light-emitting diodes.
Photo: Institute participants experiment with LEDs.
Institute participants experiment with LEDs.

Lighting experts agree: LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are the next generation of lighting. The technology has been rapidly evolving and many are eager to use it in a variety of applications, from signs and signals to illumination. To carefully nurture this promising technology and help LEDs make the big leap, one group is working to ensure that people understand the benefits and complexities of using LEDs for lighting.

For the last three years, the Lighting Research Center and its LED industry program, the Alliance for Solid-State Illumination Systems and Technologies (ASSIST), have been showing people how this quickly evolving technology works in the real world. Their twice-yearly LED Lighting Institute brings people from all over the world together for a three-day, hands-on seminar.

“There are a lot of misconceptions and claims out there that LEDs can simply replace your standard light bulb in every situation, but that’s not really the case right now,” said N. Narendran, Ph.D., director of research and head of the Solid-State Lighting Program at the LRC. “With the LED Lighting Institute, we’re helping participants to gain a broad understanding of lighting. We’re also teaching them how to produce successful lighting applications that consider LED operating characteristics, appropriate design approaches, and human factors.”

Photo: An LED spotlight is adjusted in a display window.
An LED spotlight is adjusted in a display window.

Education about the strengths and weaknesses of LEDs

The LED Lighting Institute educates participants about the best uses for LEDs, including which applications can benefit from the technology and how to successfully integrate LEDs into a lighting design. Participants in a small-class setting learn from lighting experts at the LRC about the latest advances in LED research, testing, and technology. In the lab sessions, students get involved in measuring photometric, electrical and thermal properties of LEDs. During the design sessions, they learn how to match application requirements with available technologies, select and specify LED lighting system components, and design lighting installations using LEDs. On the last day, teams experiment with LED technology by building their own light fixtures to solve a lighting problem more effectively than the solutions offered by traditional technologies.

Participants interact with senior LRC researchers with a combined expertise covering all areas of lighting, including technologies, lighting design, optical modeling, and human factors. In addition, participants work with the latest LED products on the market.

The LED Lighting Institute has gained notable support from sponsors who see the benefit of LED lighting education, including Color Kinetics, GELcore, Lumileds Lighting, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Nichia America Corp., Opto Technology, OSRAM SYLVANIA/OSRAM Opto Semiconductors, PolyBrite International, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Industry approves

Dr. Makarand “Chips” Chipalkatti, who works on innovation management at OSRAM SYLVANIA, said, “I believe that technology is changing the rules and practice of lighting, as nothing has since the first electric bulb. While this is clearly going to be a challenge for practitioners, the LED Lighting Institute is helping to ease the transition. It is a good place to learn what is new, get hands-on experience, and to share in the knowledge of others. I don’t see it as a one-time event but as a continuous education and update process.”

Chris Bohler, Ph.D., director of technology systems at GELcore said, “LEDs have significantly penetrated a number of markets including automotive lighting, mobile appliances, signals, and signage to name a few. However, with this visibility also comes misconception in regards to LED and LED systems operation and performance.” He added, “LRC's LED Lighting Institute offers a very important venue for end-users, designers, specifiers, and manufacturers to familiarize themselves, in a hands-on environment, with the capabilities of an LED, both at the package level as well as integrated into a system. Educating the industry and the public at large is the means by which solid-state lighting will gain greater acceptance.”

LEDs interest a diverse group of participants

Since the inaugural class in the autumn of 2001, nearly 300 students from around the globe have graduated from the course. Participants have included lighting designers, specifiers and product manufacturers, architects, engineers, and those simply looking for a better understanding of LED lighting. “Participants leave with more knowledge of how LEDs work and don’t work, and that is creating realistic expectations that will help advance the acceptance of LED lighting,” said Dr. Narendran.

Michael J. Scholand, a managing consultant with Navigant Consulting, Inc., said, “I thoroughly enjoyed my learning experience at the LED Lighting Institute. In class, we studied a broad range of pertinent topics from theory and basic science to applications, and even a hands-on construction lab. The lecturers gave us a broad understanding of LED strengths and weaknesses, as well as identifying applications where LEDs are competitive today and where they may be in the future.”

The next LED Lighting Institute will be held April 27-29, 2005 at the Lighting Research Center in Troy, N.Y. See the program Web site for more information.

About the LRC

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) is part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is the leading university-based research center devoted to lighting. Founded in 1988, the Lighting Research Center has built an international reputation as a trusted and reliable source for objective information about lighting technologies, applications, and products. Its mission is to advance the effective use of light and create a positive legacy of change for society and the environment.

© 2005 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180 USA.

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