Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Moving Smarter Lighting Systems from the Laboratory to the Marketplace


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February 26, 2013

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Moving Smarter Lighting Systems from the Laboratory to the Marketplace

Researchers and Students Connect with Industry Leaders at the Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center’s Fourth Annual “Industry-Academia Days”

Lighting industry leaders will deliver a pair of keynote addresses today at the Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center (ERC) fourth annual Industry-Academia Days. Led by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the ERC is dedicated to developing new lighting systems based on light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and light-sensing technologies.

This year’s event will highlight the ERC’s leading-edge research efforts toward the creation of a new generation of lighting devices and systems. School of Engineering Dean David Rosowsky will kick off the event, which will include technical sessions, poster sessions, and a student elevator pitch competition. Eric Meulenkamp, senior director and a research department head at Philips Research North America, will deliver the afternoon keynote address, titled “ Making Smart Lighting a Reality.” Stephen D. Bernstein, a founder and principal of Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design, will give the evening keynote, titled “Solid State Lighting: A lighting designer's perspective.”

Today’s event takes place at the Hilton Garden Inn in Troy, N.Y. See the full schedule at:

Rensselaer leads the ERC, which launched in 2008 and is funded primarily by the National Science Foundation. Since then, the ERC has enlisted more than 20 key industrial partners to help guide the center’s research programs and hasten the transition from product idea to testing and commercialization. The center has a strong focus on LED materials and smart lighting systems. Along with being highly energy efficient and producing higher quality light, these smarter, feature-rich systems are poised to enable entirely new applications in areas as diverse as communications, health care, and biohazard sensing.

“At the Smart Lighting ERC, we envision a future where solid-state lighting systems allow us to efficiently illuminate our homes and businesses, but at the same time put lighting to work in a wide range of other applications from transmitting wireless data to scanning for harmful toxins in the air,” said Rensselaer Professor and ERC Director Robert Karlicek. “Our annual Industry-Academia Days allow for industrial partners and other important stakeholders to hear directly from the leaders, faculty, and students who are in the lab every day working to solve these technical challenges and advance the exciting field of smart lighting.”

As part of the ERC Industry-Academia Days, students affiliated with the ERC will be challenged by an elevator pitch contest. As part of the contest, the students will have to describe in only 90 seconds the importance, technical details, and potential impacts of their research.

While the promise of LEDs as a long-lived, energy-efficient heir to light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and fluorescent tubes is undeniable, the true promise of LED and solid-state lighting technology transcends illumination. LEDs offer the potential to control, manipulate, and use light in entirely new ways for a surprisingly diverse range of new applications and capabilities never before possible with ordinary lighting.

To realize the potential of solid-state lighting technology, the ERC team is working to create better LEDs, as well as new sensors and control systems required to effectively monitor and manipulate these LEDs. Additionally, they are developing new manufacturing technology to ensure this smart lighting technology is scalable and cost effective. More than 30 ERC faculty researchers at Rensselaer and partner universities are actively working toward this goal, along with dozens of student researchers, postdoctoral researchers, and visiting industry engineers.

Along with Rensselaer, core ERC university partners are Boston University and the University of New Mexico. ERC educational outreach partners are Howard University in Washington; Morgan State University in Baltimore; and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind.

For additional information on the Smart Lighting ERC, visit:

Smart Lighting ERC

Students Drive Effort To Introduce “Smart Lighting” on Rensselaer Campus

Innovating Smarter Lighting Systems and a Brighter Future at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Energy@Rensselaer: Moving Smarter LEDs From the Laboratory to the Marketplace

Energy@Rensselaer: Rensselaer Illuminates the Future of Lighting

Energy@Rensselaer: Zeroing in on the Elusive Green LED

NSF Launches an ERC To Develop Smart Lighting

Smart Lighting ERC Deploys New Technology on Campus


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About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, over 30 research centers, more than 140 academic programs including 25 new programs, and a dynamic community made up of over 6,800 students and 104,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include upwards of 155 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration. To learn more, please visit