Jul 12, 2022
The electrical engineer and senior associate with DLR Group is confident that navigating the work-life balancing act now will pay dividends later

Why lighting?

Mark Niechwiadowicz
Mark Niechwiadowicz, DLR Group
I was in an architecture course when I was struck by how lighting affects the human experience—it allows us to experience architecture, utilize space, and it changes emotion and behavior. Since then, my passion for lighting design has only grown, with these ideas propelling my desire to elevate the human experience through light.

Favorite project?

Any project that comes with lighting design challenges, and that allows me to push my creative boundaries. I often find myself reflecting on previous project challenges and finding joy in the journey that got me to the solution. One project that stands out was a justice/civic project in the Pacific Northwest that operates as a police station, municipal court and emergency response office. The lighting challenge was identifying how electric lighting impacts the circadian response for the police and emergency responders in a 24-hour operational facility. This prompted us to evaluate the application of dynamic color-tuning circadian lighting as well as static lighting with boosted 490-nanometer wavelength light for improved circadian response and alertness.

Best part of your job?

One of the great aspects of lighting design as a practicing electrical engineer is that I get to use both sides of my brain. The left (logic) part of my brain allows me to focus on lighting calculations, details and circuiting, while the right (creative) part allows me to focus on the imaginative parts of lighting design. I enjoy this balance to strengthen all parts of my brain.

Biggest obstacle you’ve encountered?

I recently took the NCQLP Lighting Certification and the NCEES Electrical PE exams. This was a difficult season of my life which included a standard work schedule, the struggle to find balance with a social life, and late nights studying. Although the exams were difficult, I remind others that sometimes signing up for the exams is the most difficult part, and that the discomfort and sacrifices of studying are temporary and will result in great dividends for your career.

Most important thing for the future of the lighting industry?

Maintaining integrity in lighting solutions is one of the challenges that I experience, and it’s very important to the future of the lighting industry. With LED sources that are readily available and cheaply made, we can easily be swayed into using products that fail to meet the quality we desire. This will be a continued challenge as new manufacturers enter the market. We must be diligent in vetting products and sources to give our clients durable and quality lighting solutions.

Dream job?

There are many parts of my career within architectural lighting design that I love and want to continue doing as part of my dream job. I enjoy working with architects and interior designers to find unique lighting solutions, discussing lighting designs with clients and sharing lighting knowledge with others. My dream job will be where I am able to continue growing professionally and where I am challenged to improve my skills.