Lighting the Scene

Author: Mackenzie Greenwell
Student satisfies theater, engineering interests with unique major

With interests that span both the art and science worlds, Ian Boze never imagined he would find a major that combined his two passions.

Ian Boze combined interests in theater and engineering to become Purdue’s first major in lighting engineering. He is also pursuing a minor in theater.

As the first student in Purdue history to major in lighting engineering through the Multidisciplinary Engineering (MDE) program, Boze, like most engineers, enjoys “taking things apart and figuring out how they work,” but he is also a theater enthusiast.

“When I found the (lighting engineering) major, I was a little skeptical,” says Boze, a junior from Toledo, Ohio. “I wondered how it was really going to work.”

Offered through the School of Engineering Education, the MDE program allows students to experience the core engineering courses but tailor the major to satisfy their specific interests. For Boze, this flexibility has allowed him to pursue both interests in a realistic way.

“When I started looking at colleges, I didn’t really want to make theater my job, so I chose engineering,” Boze says. “After my first year of engineering, I missed theater too much. I asked if it was possible to double major in theater and engineering, and my advisor looked at me like I was crazy. Then she told me there was a better option.”

The lighting engineering program and a theater minor have fostered Boze’s appreciation for the artistic aspect of engineering. “I find that I’m more invested in what I’m doing,” he says. “I know there is an end product. It’s not just a math problem anymore.”

Boze says this unique major helps him bridge the gap that often occurs between engineers and customers.

“It’s such an asset for a company to have an engineer who is also able to understand and talk to a customer in plain language, then turn around and have an equally intelligent conversation with engineers,” he says.

Highlighting his versatility, Boze has been able to market himself differently than many engineers. “I take the electrical engineering classes so I know the technical aspect, but I also take theater classes so I know what light can actually do,” he says.

Boze used his diverse background over the summer as an electrics department intern at Weathervane Playhouse in Newark, Ohio.