As an engineer, what do you consider the most important construction parameters?
The most important element is a solid, fit-for-purpose design, that meets all stakeholders’ requirements: the employer, the end-user, and the local authorities. A correct and coordinated design is required for subsequent phases to go smoothly; once in place, everything else will follow. Technical mistakes, missed coordination problems, or lack of buy-in from the end-users will all lead to changes that cost time and money.
Green building practices are also increasingly essential. Worldwide, building and construction together account for 36% of energy use. People focus on cars and energy duration, but energy usage is the first step. We can’t afford to not be sustainable in our approach, marketing materials, and even definitions. Lighting is an integral part of green building practices and sustainable design. Illumination level targets, lighting fixture selection, and controls design are essential for a ‘green’ lighting design–with the challenge to achieve this while minimizing trade-offs in aesthetics and functionality.
What inspired you to work in engineering?
In high school, my affinity towards math and science made it the obvious choice. While studying at Cornell and Stanford, I met many brilliant engineers who have made major contributions to society, which propelled my passion for the profession even more. Finally, once I graduated, joining the family engineering firm was the most natural progression in my career, as I had a platform to use what I had learned to grow an already thriving business.
What’s presently lacking in lighting engineering that you’d like to see?
I can’t think of anything that’s not possible! I’d like to see more importance given to the aesthetics of lighting. Too often engineers design lighting only to achieve illumination levels and uniformity, yet both internal and external lighting can give a normal building character and even a ‘wow’ factor. That requires integrated thinking between the architect, interior designer and engineers. The fixtures themselves are just as important as the illumination they provide.
For example, we recently completed a K-12 School in Qatar where our team used cloud-shaped fixtures in the kindergarten classrooms. It was such an apt choice as it gives the space a very ‘cute’ and comforting feeling–exactly what a kindergarten classroom should achieve.