Alumni

Xiufang Zhao

MEBD'14

What kind of work are you doing?
I am now working as a senior lighting designer. My daily work is architectural lighting design and daylight analysis, including interior and exterior. We work together with clients, architects, engineers, and consultants to deliver a better lighting and daylighting environment.

What led you to your current position?
I majored in architecture in college and worked on several lighting and daylight projects. I like the integration of daylight and electrical lighting.

What attracted you to the firm or position?
My current firm started its business specialized in lighting design 50 years ago in New York City. I worked on their Asian projects before I joined the firm. The projects are attractive, and there is a chance to utilize both daylighting and lighting skills.

How did your studies at PennDesign prepare you for your work there?
I miss the days in PennDesign on campus: taking different courses, learning from both professors and classmates, exploring what you are really curious about with almost unlimited resources and support.

What courses, studios or instructors had the greatest influence on your work or thinking?
This is a difficult question. I took courses across the programs at PennDesign: architecture, city planning, and historic preservation. Each of the courses shaped my thoughts differently, and I enjoyed the various experience. If we define ‘thinking’ as a method we use every day to solve problems, I think ‘Systems Thinking’ taught by Professor Mark Alan Hughes had the greatest influence on my thinking. In the class we learn about systems thinking through reading, discussing, and understanding perspectives from professor and classmates with different backgrounds.

What was the best part of studying at PennDesign? In Philly?
You always have the options to make the most of the school and the city. It’s a very supportive environment that allows you to explore more and more possibilities.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I was wrong about the difficultness of the earlier question, this one is more difficult. I might be doing something else related to design, but not in the design industry. I enjoy what I’m doing now, but there are more things I’m curious about.

Are you keeping in touch with classmates, students or faculty?
Yes. We still meet and talk with each other in New York or Philly, and in general I met a lot of Penn Alum in New York City too.

Any words of advice for prospective students?
Penn provides almost unlimited resources for her students, but it’s up to you if you decide to explore more. If you have been curious about so many aspects of school, life, or work, just don’t stop moving forward to explore more. If you never try you’ll never know, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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