Social Impact Internships: William Exson (’22)

Will Exson (’22, 10-Chem Eng)

Learning to Protect Ecosystems

This summer I worked with Solid State Lighting Services to provide the National Park Service (NPS) with a guide for LED lighting fixtures. The products provided aimed to eliminate “sky glow”, which improves visibility at night, and reduces the impact on the delicate ecosystems within the parks. There were many considerations I took into account in structuring my work: light angles and distributions, light color, light intensity, efficacy, energy efficiency, and many more. In developing this guide, I had the opportunity to travel to numerous National Parks to examine current lighting practices and interact with park staff. Through these interactions, and interactions with retailers, I came to the realization that there are many opportunities for improvement within the lighting industry, but I am proud I had the ability to provide solutions for the NPS.

Noticing the World Around You

While I accrued a significant amount of scientific knowledge in the subject, I am most proud that this project has left me more aware of the role lighting plays in impacting ecosystems. I have developed an insatiable inclination to examine every light I come across and list the many ways in which it can be improved to better support the environment. I began to examine how neighborhood lighting may need improving and have come to understand some of the ways in which this lighting impacts human health. I became amazed at how such a small part of our lives has such drastic impacts and I was surprised at the lack of attention the issue received. This led me to the understanding that it is easy to operate with the belief that all problems that need solving are massive and complex, but I believe many are small and right in front of us.

Turning Passion into Career

Solid State Lighting Services is a small consulting firm that provides LED lighting solutions for the Department of Energy, venture capitalists, Intellectual Property (IP) legal firms and others. Being that they are a small firm, I was able to work directly under the founder and learned how to start and manage a successful business while leaving a lasting impact on the environment as a whole. This exposure reassured me that following my passions will lead to success and gave me some of the wisdom I would need along the way.

Looking to fulfill your fall Experiential Learning Opportunity (ELO)? Check out PKG Social Impact Internships page to learn more about where to find opportunities and how to apply! 

Tags: Lighting, Social Impact Internships, Social Impact Internships Summer 2020, Tech for Good

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