Campus Lighting Design


  • Geometry
  • Units and Unit Conversions
  • Additive Properties

MEA Description: The Campus Lighting Design MEA requires teams of students to develop a generalizable procedure for placing lights around campus buildings and walkways for a university Board of Trustees. The motivation for developing this procedure is established using a realistic context in which the Board of Trustees plans to redevelop the campus lighting system and standardize around a single installation design plan. The board wishes to improve the current lighting system and provide a consistant look and feel to the overall campus lighting scheme. The teams must take into account the size and strength of lights and the effects of having too much or too little light in a given area. The student teams are required to (1) develop a reusable general procedure for lighting layout such that the minimum lighting requirements are met but not exceeded to the point of causing light pollution and (2) use the procedure to provide a sample layout on a provided map of a sample building and the surrounding walkways. While designed around the same context as the Campus Lighting Economics MEA, the two problems can be given independently.

Implementation Strategy:

  1. Individual Activity � Individually, students read the newspaper article and problem description from the client which establishes the need to develop a procedure for placing lights around campus buildings and walkways. Students individually begin to think about what factors need to be considered in designing a lighting plan. The focus is on establishing what factors may be important to consider as the lighting plan progresses.
  2. Team Activity � In teams of 4, students develop a memo to the board of trustees requesting any additional information need to develop a procedure, as well as a ranking of how important the requested items are and the intended use of those items. The goal is to get students thinking about not only what information they currently have, but also what information they think they may need and why they may need it for developing their solution.
  3. Homework - Continuing in teams of four, students develop a procedure for placing lights in such a way as to both meet the minimum requirements for appropriate lighting as well as to minimize light pollution. Their procedure is intended to be general enough that it can be applied to a similar campus with minimal adjustments to the procedure.

Six Principles:

Principle Description How the principle is addressed in the MEA?
Model Construction Ensures the activity requires the construction of an explicit description, explanation, or procedure for a mathematically significant situation
Describe the mathematical model the students will be developing when solving this MEA:
  • What are the elements?
  • What are the relationships among elements?
  • What are the operations that describe how the elements interact?
Elements – Properties of lights such as pole height and light intensity, building dimensions and locations
Operators – Minimum and maximum lighting intensities allowed in a given area
Relationships – Additive properties of light and resulting light pollution if lighting is excessive or the resulting absence of light if not enough is present.
Reality Requires the activity to be posed in a realistic engineering context and be designed so that the students can interpret the activity meaningfully from their different levels of mathematical ability and general knowledge
Describe the context. What is the story?
What knowledge will students need to bring to this problem?
What background information must be provided?

Describe how the problem is open-ended.
Systematic placement of objects, as well as trying to achieve an appropriate level between two boundaries, is commonplace
Self-Assessment Ensures that the activity contains criteria the students can identify and use to test and revise their current ways of thinking
What is provided in this MEA that students can use to test their ways of thinking?
Using their procedure on the sample case allows students to test their procedure on a layout with many of the properties they may need to deal with in their final procedure
Model-Documentation Ensures that the students are required to create some form of documentation that will reveal explicitly how they are thinking about the problem situation
What documentation are the students being asked to produce in this MEA?
Memo to the Board of Trustees describing the procedure for placing lights around buildings and walkways
Construct Share-Ability and Re-Usability Requires students produce solutions that are shareable with others and modifiable for other engineering situations
What will indicate to the students that a sharable, reusable, or generalizable solution is desired?
Sharable – produce a model that the Board of Trustees can use to update the current campus lighting design scheme.
Generalizable – the model should be general enough to handle placing lights around any set of buildings and sidewalks with similar constraints.
Effective Prototype Ensures that the solution generated must provide a useful prototype, a metaphor, for interpreting other situations
What are other examples of structurally or conceptually similar problems that would required a similar solution?
The concepts of geometry and units show up across a wide variety of circumstances. Furthermore, placement schemes of objects such as lights and sprinklers are common in many locations.


Tested in ENGR106 - Fall 2003