Old Main SunsetCU Lighting Program: A Luminous Legacy, a Bright Future

Just over 15 years after the invention of the electric light bulb, the Lighting Program at the University of Colorado began to take shape. From the earliest days of the university, lighting has been a part of the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Among the most extensive undergraduate lighting programs in the world today, the program at CU has produced hundreds of graduates that have taken positions in the lighting industry. With the creation of the Rocky Mountain Lighting Academy (RMLA) the Lighting Program at CU is now able to provide its brand of lighting education to industry professionals. Our lighting faculty is committed to upholding the great traditions and reputation of this program.

Historical Timeline of the Lighting Program:

  • 1893 – CU’s College of Engineering is founded, consisting of the departments of civil engineering and electrical engineering. “A few lectures” in the EE curriculum devoted to “photometry of arc and incandescent lamps” are given in the then-new Hale Scientific Building.
  • 1897 – A full photometric laboratory is created in Hale. By this time, “Electric Distribution and Lamp Photometry” is a full course in the electrical engineering curriculum.
  • 1903 – “Electric Lighting” becomes a required course in the electrical engineering curriculum.
  • 1920 – Four photometric laboratories are now in use to accommodate increased enrollment.
  • 1934 – The changing nature of electrical engineering has resulted in the reduction of lighting courses to a single elective course. The study of illumination is moved to the graduate level and later reduced to a brief section of an electrical engineering overview course.
  • 1963 – Amidst a renaissance of lighting education at several universities, lighting reappears in the architecture curriculum as a three-credit course: “Illumination in Architecture” taught by industry professionals.
  • 1966 – Ronald Helms joins the architectural engineering faculty and begins the regular teaching of lighting in the architectural engineering program.
  • 1973 – Illumination 1 becomes a required course for all architectural engineers.
  • 1981 – Helms leaves CU. David DiLaura, who has taught a lighting course each fall semester since 1973, moves to Colorado to assume full-time responsibility for the lighting program.
  • 1984 – First lighting student retreat is held in Vail, Colorado.
  • 1990 – CU joins the Besal Lighting Scholarship program and begins to receive $32,000 per year, providing for $1,500 and $1,000 scholarships to illumination students.
  • 1993 – A new lighting laboratory is established in the Engineering Center’s South Tower.
  • 1994 – CU organizes and hosts the first International Conference on Lighting Education.
  • 1998 – Robert G. Davis joins architectural engineering as a second faculty member in lighting.
  • 2005 – CU’s Lighting Program is awarded the 10-year $500,000 OSRAM-SYLVANIA Lighting Education Grant.
  • 2007 – DiLaura and Davis leave CU. Sandra Vasconez and Brent Protzman assume responsibilities for the Lighting Program.
  • 2011 – Protzman leaves CU.
  • 2012 – C. Walter Beamer IV, a product of CU’s Lighting Program, returns to CU and assumes a full-time teaching role in the Lighting Program.
  • 2013 – The Lighting Program is awarded a four-year IES Education Grant, which helps to establish a certificate program in ENVD, increases the number of graduate lighting courses taught in AREN, and funds the creation of a second Rocky Mountain Lighting Academy summer course. The inaugural course of the RMLA is taught in June.