Architectural engineering alumnus organizes donation for people without homes


By Gabrielle Stewart

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When a cold snap plunged Los Angeles, California, into temperatures below 30 degrees in early November, Charles (Chip) Israel thought about the many people without homes that he sees regularly on his commute.

Israel, a Penn State architectural engineering alumnus and chief executive officer of the Lighting Design Alliance (LDA) architectural lighting design firm in Long Beach, California, aimed to assist those individuals and families.

“I wanted to help however I can,” Israel said. “I felt the best way to start was to provide some essentials they really need.”

He decided to create support packages. Through LDA, Israel purchased supplies that he and other LDA team members sorted into backpacks to be distributed through a local homeless shelter.

Each backpack contains hygiene and cold-weather items, including a sleeping bag, several pairs of socks, soap, razors, sanitary wipes, a hat, gloves and more. A local clothing company, Made by Miss Hilde, donated cloth masks for the packages. Israel’s company has distributed 125 of the backpacks, but Israel plans to prepare and distribute a total of 1,000 backpacks with support from other companies.

“With the time and effort of our team, this happened very quickly,” Israel said. “My long-term goal would be for us to do this once a month if we can get some more help with funding these donations.”

Supporting others in need has been a motivation for Israel’s involvement in academia, he said. As a member and past president of the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), he created an education trust within the organization, through which LDA funds a scholarship for undergraduate and graduate students. He contributed to the creation of Project CANDLE, a multi-university lighting education partnership that provides travel stipends, mentorships and other opportunities for students.

“As architectural engineers, we are largely focused on improving quality of life for all,” said Sez Atamturktur, Harry and Arlene Schell Professor and head of the Department of Architectural Engineering. “This is especially true for Chip, who has worked tirelessly to create opportunities for others and give back throughout his career.”

Israel earned his bachelor of architectural engineering in environmental systems in 1984 and founded LDA in 1992. He received the Penn State Outstanding Engineering Alumni award, the highest honor bestowed by the College of Engineering, in 2009. Israel is a fellow of the International Association of Lighting Designers as well as the Illuminating Engineering Society.


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Megan Lakatos

a person posing for a professional headshot

Chip Israel, a 1984 architectural engineering alumnus and founder of the Lighting Design Alliance firm in Long Beach, California. IMAGE: PROVIDED BY CHIP ISRAEL