IES: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How Team TLA Supports its Mission

TLA Spotlight Blog

IES: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How Team TLA Supports its Mission

Feb 24, 2022 | News & Events

If you’ve visited our website to sign-up for Light Club updates, register for an upcoming AIA event, or use our quick quote tool for a budget request, you may have noticed the IES Sustaining Member Contributor badge in the footer.

While the badge is new, TLA’s support of IES or the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America is not.

Today on the blog former IESRMS President Robert Hawkins, current Education Chair Carl Canfield, and board member Kathryn Lovda are here to talk about IES history, the importance of the organization within the lighting industry, and their personal contributions.


What is IES and why is it important to the lighting industry?

First, let’s hear from former Rocky Mountain Section President, Robert Hawkins – TLA’s Applications Engineering Manager.

The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America is an organization of lighting professionals that is meant to inform and educate those interested in lighting and all things associated with it.

The organization provides a base for research and publication of same for continuing the advancement of the art and science of lighting. IES teams up with the American national standards institute to publish National standards. They organize committees for the continuing publication of documents like RP’s (recommended practices), DG’s (design guides), and LM’s (lighting metrics) that address many lighting scenarios and help those responsible for designing them.

Each year a conference is held at which new, noteworthy products in the industry are highlighted (the Progress Report) and papers and research are presented over the course of several days. Aside from several fine colleges with lighting programs (CU -Boulder being one), this is the place to learn of what is being discovered and learn about lighting and its interaction with people.

The recent discovery of a new receptor in the eye is one area that has groundbreaking research being done to help us learn how it affects the circadian system.

IES organizes Education programs taught at the local level as well as seminars and such at conferences. That gives folks in the industry who are new, or in need of refreshing their basic lighting knowledge, a place to go that is not a full college program to sharpen their knowledge.



Historical image of IES Insignia

Can you give us a short history of IES?

There is a fantastic short history of the IES here, which I would summarize as follows:

The group that founded the Society and helped it flourish consisted of men from five areas of lighting. The men who operated central stations and those who worked for the lamp manufacturers constituted two groups of professionals involved in lighting. The third group was from gas companies, and the fourth and fifth from lighting appliance manufacturers and lighting consultants and designers, respectively.

These men shared the common goal of establishing a new and autonomous organization to support the growth of what would become the “Illuminating Engineering Movement. The first full technical meeting took place at the Hotel Astor in February of 1906.

My personal history with IES starts with having been sent by my employers to the conference each year to continue my lighting education. I brought back wonderful bits of information that I otherwise would not know, shared them with my coworkers, and proceeded to use that information in the work I did.  I also served for a short time on the Testing Procedures committee as I was involved in luminaire photometric testing.

After moving back to Colorado in 1996, I became quite involved at the local level, rising to become President of the local chapter.  We introduced having officers serve for longer than a year in their roles.  It seemed to me as a newcomer that the one-year plan just got you rolling and then you were gone.

Since my time as president TLA has had many folks involved at the local level, occupying offices, and chairing committees to help deliver lighting knowledge to the local lighting community. TLA also has become a sustaining member, trading dollars for access to the lighting library as well as the use of the IES logo.


IES and the local lighting community

Up next is Carl Canfield from the TLA Controls Team to talk about how both the community-building and educational advancement aspects of IES have kept him engaged and involved since 2011.

How has your work with IES supported professional networking and the local lighting community?

I’ve been an IES Rocky Mountain Section member off and on since graduating from CU Boulder in 2011, when a good friend and colleague persuaded me to get serious and join the board in 2019.

I showed up to the first board meeting with no clue what to expect. What I found was a cooler full of beverages and a group of energetic, dedicated, and passionate people from all corners of the local industry mingling and organizing in support of the lighting community.

I promptly signed on, and since became the Education Chairperson and successfully organized our chapter’s first post-pandemic Fundamentals of Lighting course, an annual education event that had to be held virtually for the first time in chapter history. It went off without a hitch, thanks in huge part to people like Kathryn and our other dedicated board members and industry instructors.

Being on the Board has been an enjoyable way to network with colleagues outside of the normal day-job context, as well as connect to meaningful causes, like a donation campaign for re-construction in the city of Beirut, Lebanon after the devastating port explosion in August 2020, or organizing in support of lighting community members who lost their homes in the Marshall Fire.

I am grateful to have found an organization like the IES that not only works so hard to enrich and entertain its members, but it also supports its members and contributes to the well-being of strangers on the other side of the world in difficult times.

P.S. If you haven’t had a chance to read my recent post on the Digital MultipleX and DMX, be sure to click here!


Group photo of women at 2019 SALC in San Diego Day 1 Ladies in Lighting
Pictured above, 2019 SALC in San Diego Day 1 Ladies in Lighting


IES Events

Finally, let’s hear from TLA Inside Lighting Sales Manager, Kathryn Lovda, about the many ways she has contributed to IES-sponsored events, fundraising, and educational programs.

What are some of the many opportunities you’ve had as an IES board member to partner with colleagues to organize and promote social and educational events?

I have been involved with the IES Rocky Mountain Section for over a year now, having joined the board in December of 2020. I currently sit on the Golf Committee, which hosts an annual golf tournament—one of our chapter’s most significant fund-raising events.

This year, we are in discussion to direct a portion of the proceeds towards an education scholarship.

I have also worked on several events, such as this past outing to Meow Wolf. This was a combined event between IESRMS and IALD which quickly sold out! It highlighted the lighting installations on the exterior and some interior of the exhibits. It was such a great opportunity to experience these installations alongside colleagues and creators.

In the past, I have worked with Carl Canfield on the Fundamentals of Lighting annual course. I have assisted him in ensuring the course runs properly during live and online instruction. This year, I hope to assist Carl again!

Serving on the IES board has brought me a lot of joy and wonderful networking opportunities.

I have enjoyed meeting local lighting folks within the AEC community (Architects, Engineers, and Contractors). We also have had a lot of fun together, especially at this year’s Christmas party.


Group photo at IES Lighten Up 2019
Pictured above, group photo at IES Lighten Up 2019

Thanks so much for spending a few minutes with Team TLA. We hope that you found this IES blog post to be an illuminating read!

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