Inside Rensselaer
Volume 6, No. 5, March 16, 2012

NASA Scholars

(l-r) Smart Lighting ERC Director Robert Karlicek, Congressman Paul Tonko, President Shirley Ann Jackson, Engineering Dean David Rosowsky, and ERC Director of Industrial Collaboration Sylvia Mioc.

Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center Conference a Success

The third annual “Smart Spaces: Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center (ERC) Industry-Academia Days” were held on campus Feb. 13-15. Faculty researchers and graduate students from the ERC's three partner institutions—Rensselaer, Boston University, and the University of New
Mexico—gathered for the annual event to discuss their research and advances that will lead to improved energy efficiency, health, and productivity.

The three-day event included laboratory tours and an opening dinner, a public day of ERC research presentations, and an internal day of more in-depth discussions with industrial members. The conference was sold out, with 170 people attending, including 50 attendees from companies, making it the biggest conference to date.

On Feb. 13, 25 industrial visitors participated in the laboratory tours and research demonstrations. Ongoing work from the Smart Room Testbed, Visible Light Communications, and research about green LEDs was presented by ERC students and faculty. Additionally, brief tours were given of the ERC's wafer processing and characterization laboratories, as well as the micro- and nanofabrication clean room at Rensselaer that can be used by external industrial members.

A dinner at the Russell Sage Dining Hall officially opened the conference, and provided a venue for students, faculty, industrial guests, and other Rensselaer attendees to network. President Shirley Ann Jackson gave opening remarks and introduced the keynote speaker, Congressman Paul Tonko. School of Engineering Dean David Rosowsky was the master of ceremonies.

The public day included highlights from ERC research, an overview of how industry can partner with the ERC, and presentations about how the ERC engages students at all levels to develop interest in smart lighting and how the ERC works to develop graduates who are prepared to enter the global workforce. One example of this preparation was the elevator pitch competition, in which ERC graduate students presented highlights of their research in 90 seconds.

The ERC’s innovation partners—Center for Economic Growth in Albany, STC.UNM in Albuquerque, and EE Capital in Boston—were instrumental in coaching the students to develop successful elevator pitches. The ERC's industrial representatives in the room, led by the advisory board members, judged the elevator pitches.

Industry members Sanan and Matheson Tri-Gas donated funds for the prizes. Fangxu Dong (Rensselaer), Brian Frey (Rensselaer), Michael Rahaim (Boston University), and John Waldron (Rensselaer) were each awarded $300, while the four remaining finalists received $25 each.

The keynote lecture on “Lighting Effects on Humans: Current Concepts and Controversies” was given by Jennifer Veitch from the National Research Council, Canada, and an ERC scientific advisory board member.

More details on the conference can be found on the Smart Lighting website at To view the elevator pitch competition, go to

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 6, Number 5, March 16, 2012
©2012 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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