Ian Boze: A Theater-Loving Student Pursues Lighting Engineering

MDE student Ian Boze
A niche degree through ENE's Multidisciplinary Engineering Program unites two interests.

When high school student Ian Boze started thinking about college, he knew two things: he was interested in engineering, and he didn’t want to give up theater. Those dual interests landed him in Purdue’s Multidisciplinary Engineering (MDE) program, offered through Interdisciplinary Engineering in the School of Engineering Education, as the first ever student to major in MDE’s lighting engineering concentration.

“I thought that having lighting engineering on my resume would make me more marketable than, say, having an electrical engineering degree and 30 hours of theater coursework,” says the Toledo, Ohio, native, now a Purdue senior. Boze’s theatrical experience includes both acting (he played Harold Hill in The Music Man in high school) and technical work, including set construction and special effects.

“I’ve worked on a lot of community theater productions,” says Boze, “where we always had big ideas but little in the way of resources to pull them off.” Being called on to create “big” out of “little,” as he puts it, developed his problem-solving skills, which pointed him toward engineering.

“What I want to do is work for companies that manufacture lighting systems and equipment,” Boze says.  “With my theater background, I know the effects that directors and lighting designers are going for, and I can help design the equipment that makes those ideas possible.”

His dream job is to do “a lot of corporate stuff”—concert events, auto shows, conferences, and the like, custom-designing lighting systems for special occasions. With one more year of courses to go, Boze is hoping that the foundation laid by MDE’s set of core engineering courses, as well as his extracurricular activities, will land him a job after graduation.

“I’m president of the executive board for Purdue Convocations Voice Network, so I see a lot of different events come through, and I can look at them from a technical perspective,” he says. When Lady Gaga performed at Purdue in January 2011, Boze was there, savoring the spectacle while contemplating the integration of the lighting and video work on a set designed to resemble a giant TV screen. This spring, he will be Assistant Technical Director for Blithe Spirit, designing the special effects for the show as his senior capstone project.

“Most people attend an event and want to see what’s happening on the stage,” he says. “I like to look back—and take a look at how the lights and equipment are set up.”