Education and qualifications: ILP Exterior Lighting Diploma, City & Guilds 7303 – PTLLS
Job title: Lighting Design Engineer
Employer: Whitecroft Lighting Ltd
What inspired you to become an engineer or pointed you towards an engineering career?
I was always practically-minded as a kid. While growing up I was fascinated by lighting, be it artificial or natural (the night sky), so I was drawn into the lighting industry as a career. As a ten-year old boy in 1992, both my creative and technical interests were inspired by the experience of attending my first concert by Genesis and their pioneering stage productions. This led to a career as a self-employed stage lighting engineer, before turning my hand to architectural and commercial lighting.
Please describe your role or position within your workplace.
I work as a Lighting Design Engineer within a team of lighting designers for one of the UK’s largest lighting manufacturers.
Can you describe a typical working day?
My typical working day always starts with coffee, and plenty of it! It usually involves building or editing various lighting design calculations, working with AutoCAD to prepare comprehensive project drawings, applying the appropriate British or European Standards and/or building regulations and general engineering principles of lighting to my designs, and ensuring the correct products are specified for an application. I advise sales engineers and customers on compliance and develop solutions that deliver on both the design intent of a project and the illuminance requirements while striking a balance and working to suit the budget.
Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
Every day is different and working on complex projects may can often throw up various challenges. One of the most challenging aspects is managing a client’s expectations. Everyone has their own impression of how a space should look, however delivering a final scheme that satisfies all stakeholders with the “form” while still performing on the “function” aspect is a challenge.
What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
The diversity: I get to work across so many different aspects of lighting; both internal and external. I work on major projects in healthcare, commercial and retail and smaller projects in industry and education. You never know what’s next, and it’s nice to put your own stamp on things with lighting as there is always somewhat of an artistic flair that can be incorporated.
Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about.
Completing my Institution of Lighting Professionals (ILP) Exterior Diploma was a major professional and personal milestone for me. It reaffirmed my passion for exterior lighting, and just how much I enjoy applying engineering principles to a task and presenting this all as a cohesive report-based package that communicates the necessary technical information.
What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
Having never been particularly academic, I wanted to be able to demonstrate my professional competence and both the Engineering Council and the Institution of Lighting Professionals offered me the ideal route to do this.
In what ways has registration benefitted your career?
Being able to demonstrate a level of competence when engaging with stakeholders on a project has helped my confidence levels dramatically. It is generally recognised by other engineers of other disciplines, and I feel that as an Engineering Council registrant I am accepted by my peers.
How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
Having employees who are able to demonstrate a professional level of competence is important in project delivery.
Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
Do it! You won’t regret it, it has certainly helped me establish myself in my career and has helped me formulate my future aspirations.
Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time or what are your future ambitions?
I’d like to develop to achieve IEng and then ultimately CEng.
Do you participate in any other career-related activities, such as mentoring, volunteering or membership of other engineering groups?
While not strictly career related, I have a keen interest in astronomy and astro-photography. I also help run a free to use online astro community to engage and encourage budding young astronomers. This in some ways does mirror aspects of my professional life with a passion for minimising the negative effects artificial lighting can have on the night sky. See the website: www.oldhamandrochdaleastro.co.uk
Outside work, is there any activity you enjoy doing in your spare time that relates to engineering?
I am currently in the process of restoring a 17th century Grade II listed cottage. It has been a real challenge. Doing the majority of work myself, it is rewarding to be able to apply an engineering/technical mindset to overcoming each new job. Learning about traditional building materials such as lime mortars and plaster, using a palette of breathable materials and ensuring the house can function as intended is satisfying.