Craig Bernecker, professor of lighting design, wins Lifetime Achievement Award


The award recognizes Bernecker’s decades of career in the lighting industry as a leading educator, researcher and practitioner.

Craig Bernecker, professor of lighting design, wins Lifetime Achievement Award

As a leading expert in all things lighting, Craig Bernecker, professor of lighting design at Parsons, has been a researcher, educator, practitioner and more throughout his decades of career. He has testified in court about the role of lighting in car crashes and was instrumental in the development of Penn State University’s lighting design program, as well as the Parsons program, where he is the director of the MFA lighting design program.

Recently, Bernecker was recognized by the Lighting Design Awards with the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes his immense contributions in the field, where in addition to his role as an educator, he has served in several capacities for various professional organizations.

“It is a great honor to receive this award and it reflects the many opportunities I have had over the course of my career to help my students and others understand the complexity of lighting design and the impact. that the light has on us everyday, even if it isn’t. still completely obvious, ”shared Bernecker. “We often refer to lighting design as both an art and a science, and it’s a discipline where good design is about striking that balance. I hope that throughout my career, I have been able to communicate it effectively! Thanks again to the judges and the Lighting Design Awards program for giving me this award.

Bernecker took a unique path in his career in lighting, as he first studied psychology as an undergraduate student. After graduation, he enrolled in the master’s program in architectural engineering at Penn State University, where one of his lighting professors, John Flynn, was researching the psychology of light.

“I got into lighting because my training in psychology led me to become John Flynn’s graduate assistant,” Bernecker explained. “And my master’s thesis work in lighting, ‘The Potential of Luminance Data Design Applications’, turned out to be a transaction when it was presented at the 1979 IES conference and published in the Journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society. It also introduced the first computer generated photorealistic rendering of lighting effects in a space.

While at Penn State, Bernecker expanded the lighting program to include new courses, recruit additional faculty, and publish exciting research, such as a study that demonstrated how the physiological effects of lighting can be influenced. through architectural lighting systems rather than just the use of therapeutic devices. After leaving Penn State, Bernecker founded the Lighting Education Institute (LEI), where he provides professional lighting training and collaborates with other industry partners.

Bernecker’s work at Parsons has been immense, where he was instrumental in a variety of educational programs and initiatives that have made the lighting design program one of the best in the country.

“At Parsons, I helped revise the curriculum for the two-year MFA Lighting Design Program and, in particular, helped build a stronger foundation for lighting design students. . We have also developed an interdisciplinary focus, establishing both a double degree program to simultaneously award a Masters in Architecture and an MFA in Lighting Design, and a double major granting an MFA in Lighting and Interior Design, led by my colleague Derek Porter.

In addition, Bernecker was responsible for creating an elective course, “Lighting Technologies in Developing Countries,” which gives students the opportunity to explore large areas of the world that do not have access to it. electric lighting. It also brought working professionals into the classroom who teach short intensive courses and expanded the research component of the student experience, which includes a project focused on the 13 different connection lighting systems installed. on campus, where students regularly assess their effectiveness.

“In the fourteen plus years since I’ve been with Parsons, we’ve been able to create a unique research program within a design school,” said Bernecker. “Focusing on evidence-based design, we ask our design students to conduct experimental research as part of their final thesis projects. Over the past four years, we have presented and published over a dozen of their projects as technical papers at IES annual conferences. Students learn to do good research so that they can more critically assess cutting-edge information that can inform their future design decisions.

Bernecker’s exemplary work can be found alongside other famous Parsons professors who are engaged in innovative projects that highlight the power of design to solve problems. Xin Xin, assistant professor of interaction and media design at the School of Art, Media and Technology, and Marisa Morán Jahn, assistant professor of design strategies at the School of design strategies, both were selected to be part of the inaugural cohort of the Art of Practice Fellowship, which is sponsored by the Sundance Institute Interdisciplinary Program, while David Leven, Associate Professor of Architecture, has been recognized by the New York State Chapter of the American Institute of Architects as “Company of the Year” thanks to its work as half of the duo behind LEVENBETTS.

For Bernecker, his work in the classroom is just as important as the work he does with external organizations, which range from the pro bono projects he leads in his community to the initiatives he engages with at a professional level for a variety of different lighting groups.

“I find it important to participate in these kinds of activities in order to bring an understanding of the practice of design, as well as cutting edge information into the classroom for the benefit of my students,” he said. “And if I have accomplished anything that deserves this award, it is the students who, as practicing professionals, have contributed to the lighting profession in myriad ways, emphasizing the importance of lighting as as an essential design element in our built environments. “


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