Space, Light, Color!—a special exhibit organized by art and science professors—features interactive lighting installations designed by graduate students in a newly developed “Lighting and Technology” course that resulted from a collaboration between two very different departments.

Professors Anna Gitelman, who teaches interior architecture and design at Suffolk’s New England School of Art & Design, and Patricia Hogan of physics & engineering collaborated in developing the “Lighting and Technology” course.

Hogan’s expertise brought technical elements to Gitelman’s art school class, offering students the opportunity to explore new ideas, research, and technologies in lighting.

Hogan also helped with the grant proposal process, and the collaborative effort between the two departments is funded by the Nuckolls Fund for Lighting Education, with lighting fixture donations from Lumenpulse.

Concepts and creation

Gitelman said that one of the most important aspects of the course was the creation process itself. Not all courses allow students to move beyond concepts and into the physical building process, but having this opportunity helped students learn about the possibilities and limitations of their designs.

“The biggest learning moment for them was when they saw that everything they envisioned on paper might not work in the building process,” says Gitelman. “When something didn't work, they had to figure out how to fix it.”

Mentorship

But the art students and science students did not seek solutions in a vacuum. Professional designers, scientists, artists, lighting experts, and engineers were brought in to share their knowledge and offer needed advice.

One student in particular stood out as a professional in his own right.

Electrical engineering major and graduating senior Norh Asmare was vital to the creation of Space, Light, Color!

“The entire success of the program hinged on his ability to make the designers’ ideas function the way they wanted them to,” says Hogan.

Asmare was able to hold his own as the sole undergraduate student working on the project.

His programing knowledge was the basis of his participation, but Asmare was motivated by his genuine curiosity about the subject.

“What helped the most was my interest in this. My prior experience was certainly important but I would not have put this much time into it if I wasn't so interested,” says Asmare. “I learned so much more about my own field and lighting.”

He used his expertise in the developmental and programming stages of the exhibit, worked alongside Lumenpulse engineers to eliminate any glitches with the installations, and provided in-depth consultations to the design students to help bring their concepts to reality.

“Norh is a tremendous asset to the Department of Physics and Electrical Engineering and will be an excellent representative for our programs when he graduates in May,” says Hogan. “His work exemplifies the interdisciplinary skill set that is necessary in the 21st century scientific and technical marketplace.”

The completed installation demonstrates the meticulous work that was put into the course projects.

“It came out very well. All of them were extremely pleased with the outcome,” says Gitelman.

The exhibit ran through May 5, 2014, at the New England Schoolor Art & Design.