Nuckolls Project


This site contains a brief summary and supplemental material for the article A Core Lighting Curriculum for University Students and Lighting Professionals, published in Lighting Research & Technology. The version of record (which requires a subscription), can be accessed at: 

As of 23 June 2024, the manuscript has not yet been assigned to a specific journal issue or given final pagination. Please check the above link for updates. In the interim, please cite this article as:

Houser KW. 2024. A core lighting curriculum for university students and lighting professionals. Light Res Technol. Online First.

If you do not have a subscription to LR&T, a PDF of the Author’s Accepted Manuscript is available HERE. Thank you for your interest in this work.


In collaboration with a group of lighting professionals, learning outcomes were defined, prioritized, organized, and mapped to a three-courses sequence of Architectural Engineering (ARE) courses at Oregon State University. This page provides a summary of that work, including course syllabi, homework assignments, and supplemental material.

The materials provided here are offered as a free resource. They can be used without modification, adapted by other educators, used for self-study, or simply reviewed for ideas about what we prioritized when developing this course sequence.

Oregon State University operates on a quarter system, with three-quarters comprising one academic year. Each course summarized below runs for 10 weeks. Students are expected to spend about 12 to 16 hours per week on a 4-credit course, inclusive of in-class time and out-of-class study.

Toward the bottom of this page is an additional document that provides ideas for additional lighting exercises. It contains many ideas for learning exercises from our professional partners. It is a treasure of inspiration.

The downloadable materials offered below are current as of the dates on the documents, but teaching and learning are dynamic, and a course is never really finished. The design projects included below under ARE 461 and ARE 462 vary from year to year and should be viewed as representative of the sorts of problems studied. Continuous reassessment and revision are natural parts of pedagogy.

ARE 361Fundamentals for Lighting Design

Catalog Description: Demonstrate critical thinking about illuminating engineering and applied lighting in the built environment. Explore lighting terminology, photometric quantities and units, the visual response of the human eye and brain, luminous radiative transfer, lighting equipment, elementary lighting design procedures, and basic lighting calculations.

Course Learning Outcomes: By the conclusion of this course, students are expected to be able to:

    1. Compute and manipulate photometric quantities such as luminous flux, luminous intensity, illuminance, exitance, and luminance.
    2. Analyze lighting design solutions by identifying the components of light (sometimes called “layers of light”, or luminous characteristics) that were employed in design.
    3. Explain the basic performance characteristics of light sources that are relevant when matching light sources to end-use application
    4. Identify major families of luminaire types and subtypes.

ARE 361 Downloads:

    • ARE 361 Syllabus [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #1 The Raisin Observation [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #2 Lighting Image Examples, Annotations, and Critiques [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #3 The Language of Light and Lighting [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #4 Practicing the Fundamentals [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #5 Lighting Design Process [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #6 Lighting Design Analysis—Psychological Impressions [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #7 Light Sources [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #8 Luminaires and Photometric Reports [DOCX] [PDF]

ARE 461Lighting Design for the Built Environment I

Catalog Description: Builds upon ARE 361 to advance critical skills in illuminating engineering and applied lighting for the built environment, emphasizing integration between the lighting design process, technical fundamentals, and application to design. Extends depth in photometry by calculating illuminance with diffuse radiative transfer. Establishes design criteria, employs computer-based calculations as a verification tool, and creates solutions compliant with compulsory standards.

Course Learning Outcomes: By the conclusion of this course, students are expected to be able to:

    1. Demonstrate facility with basic radiative transfer situations, including point calculations and computation and implementation of configuration and form factors.
    2. Implement the lighting design process for a space of modest complexity where there are multiple and competing design considerations and design criteria.
    3. Develop design documentation comprising drawings and a lighting equipment schedule comparable to that expected in a professional context.

ARE 461 Downloads:

    • ARE 461 Syllabus [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #1 Point Calculations [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #2 More Practice with Point Calculations [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #3 Luminous Radiative Transfer [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #4 Human Centric Lighting, Part 1 [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #5 Human Centric Lighting, Part 2 [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #6 Learning Styles [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #7 A Good Start to the Design Project [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #8 Getting Started with AGi32 [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Design Project #1 Light Structures in AGi32 [DOCX] [PDF]
        • Design Project Written Report Evaluation Rubric [DOCX] [PDF]
        • Design Project Oral Presentation Evaluation Rubric [DOCX] [PDF]

ARE 462Lighting Design for the Built Environment II

Catalog Description: Builds upon ARE 461, extending lighting design skills and technical knowledge in applied illuminating engineering to produce defensible solutions to open ended engineering problems. Prioritize and balance competing criteria that addresses lighting requirements for the visual experience (e.g., vision, visual comfort, psychological reinforcement, color quality) and human health, while accounting for energy use and complying with compulsory standards. Demonstrate facility with the lighting design process, luminaire photometry, applied colorimetry, and software-based simulation.

Course Learning Outcomes: By the conclusion of this course, students are expected to be able to:

    1. Compute the major components of a luminaire photometric report (e.g., zonal lumens, luminaire efficiency, coefficient of utilization) from an IES LM-63 format photometry file.
    2. Implement the lighting design process for a space of modest complexity where there are multiple and competing design considerations and design criteria.
    3. Communicate the results of your design process orally in the form of a professionally prepared presentation and in writing in the form of a professionally prepared report.
    4. Perform parametric comparisons where one lighting variable is systematically varied and a dependent measure is analyzed.

ARE 462 Downloads:

    • ARE 462 Syllabus [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Class Preparation Assignment 01 Wall Lighting Examples [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Class Preparation Assignment 02 Five Questions about Judging the Scientific Quality of Applied Lighting Research [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #1 Lighting a Plane [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #2 Color Science for Illuminating Engineering [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #3 Excel-Based Photometric Tool [DOCX] [PDF]
    • Homework #4 Howard Brandston Student Lighting Design Education Grant [DOCX] [PDF]
        • Design Project Written Report Evaluation Rubric [DOCX] [PDF]
        • Design Project Oral Presentation Evaluation Rubric [DOCX] [PDF]

Supplemental Material

As a step toward developing a shared understanding of curricular priorities, the lighting professionals completed a technical knowledge survey that I developed. The survey contained more than 300 technical skills relevant to careers in architectural engineering and lighting, subdivided into cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. Rating scales were employed for each major domain with reference to Bloom’s taxonomy. For each topic listed, the rating scales probe the expected degree of topical mastery for an entry-level professional. TB, JE, SO, CS, and AW independently completed the survey. I prepared a numerical summary with the lists sorted by mean (employed as a proxy for importance) and standard deviation (employed as a proxy for agreement). An Excel file with the raw data is included below for download. The survey can be adapted for other lighting education contexts.

The lighting consultants were also invited to query their coworkers, colleagues, and employees about their experience with learning about light. They were asked to summarize the assignments, exercises, or learning experiences that they found important or memorable when first learning about light and lighting. The file linked below is a collection of these ideas, topically sorted, which can serve as inspiration for how to teach the topics that we identified as important. Experiential exercises are emphasized.

Supplemental Material Download

    • Technical Knowledge Survey [XLSX]
    • Memorable Lighting Exercises [DOCX] [PDF]


This work was supported by the Nuckolls Fund for Lighting Education through a 2020 Jeffrey A. Milham Catalyst Grant (Award No. 20-0819).

Oregon State University supported my effort through my academic year salary, and by providing the latitude to support the development of a lighting concentration within Oregon State University’s Architectural Engineering program.

Teal Brogden, Jason Edling, Sean O’Connor, Charles Stone, and Andrea Wilkerson provided invaluable assistance in identifying and prioritizing educational content. They possess deep experience as lighting professionals. In generously sharing their expertise, they offered the viewpoints of hiring authorities, business owners, designers, and women engineers. They shared opinions about design processes, technologies, fundamentals, and applications. They were collaborative and generous. I was fortunate to learn from their wisdom and counsel.


Notwithstanding the contributions from the people and organizations listed above, I am solely responsible for all errors of judgment and fact.

The information provided on this page is strictly for educational purposes. Any use of the materials on this page is at the discretion of the user. If you wish to apply ideas contained on this site, you are taking full responsibility for your actions. You may discover that there are other methods and materials to accomplish different or better pedagogical outcomes.

Revision History

    • Feb 14, 2023: Initial post.
    • Jul 20, 2023: Updated linked files and added DOCX versions.
    • Nov 8, 2023: Fixed broken link for Technical Knowledge Survey.
    • Jun 23, 2024: Added “Welcome” section with links to VOR and AAM.

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