Kass Negash

April 2016

Kass Negash
Vice President
W. Allen Engineering 

Q: How did you first get started in the lighting industry?
In 1960, the first gas generator was installed in my hometown, which is about 100 miles outside Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. The people thought it was a miracle. My family was able to afford a single phase, two wire house service, and we had three incandescent lamps in the house. And that’s when I decided to study electricity and become an electrical engineer. I came to the U.S. in 1973 to study at the University of Maryland, but later found a free scholarship to study at the Moscow Power Engineering Institute (National Research University), one of the leading technical universities in the world, and graduated with a master’s degree in electrical motors. Later, I did my post-graduate work at George Washington University. I got my first job in 1982 at V.J. Mini, an electrical contractor in New Jersey, where I worked as a field engineer. In 1984, I joined the New York City Department of General Services, then joined the New York City Department of Transportation as a street lighting engineer, and became the DOT’s Bronx borough engineer in the street lighting division. In 2012, I joined W. Allen Engineering, where I am a vice president responsible for traffic signal and street lighting projects.

Q: How did you first get involved in the IESNYC?
During the time I was at the DOT, I had the opportunity to meet and work with members of the lighting community. Lighting representatives would come and introduce their products, and I remember that Bob Drego, who was a representative at Holophan (now Acuity Brand), first introduced me to the IESNYC. After I joined the Section in 1996, I started attending the annual IES National Conference.

Q: How do you see your role as member of the IESNYC?
The IESNYC has really helped me to understand what light means to the world we live in, as it affects all aspects of our lives. I joined the Society’s Roadway Lighting Subcommittee and have attended their annual conference, giving my input as to what is being done here in New York City. Some 10 years back, I joined the IESNYC Student Lighting Competition Committee, and I find it a rewarding light competition. These committees work with the NYC lighting industry and give students a chance to participate in new light design. Even though it is hard work, it is rewarding to see new generations of light design students coming to present their new designs every year. Each year, we see the students coming up with new ideas, and the number of students participating is also increasing, and this is good for the Section and the lighting industry.

Q: In your opinion, what are the best assets of the IESNYC?
In my opinion, being a member is not enough, and I encourage all members join the committee of their choice. You give your time and effort, but you get a lot in return. I appreciate that the IESNYC provides new information and ideas to it is members, and I personally find the seminars on the new city codes valuable. I would like to suggest that the Section liaise more with City of New York government agencies, and I would like to help doing just that.