I'm looking for what character traits, job experiences, or technical knowledge make a P.Eng(professional Engineer) good at lighting design?
Design, IE: drawing single-line diagrams, consulting with clients, etc.
I think you have to have an "artsy" side to you. For example much of how we experience light is subjective and can sometimes be downright emotional. You need a feel for psychology and physiology to be a good lighting designer. This is based on my experience doing lighting for live theater and also (waaaaay back when) for rock and pop concerts. The technical end of lighting design is far easier to pick up than the perceptual part. For example, in theater, we use a rose colored lighting (I am understating the actual gel combinations) for daylight. It is no where near 5,500K! But it gives the perception of natural daylight on stage. On the other hand, 5,500K makes everyone on stage look like they are dead. As a photographer, I find that I also have a feel for light and shadows and how they play against each other. I don't think they teach that in engineering school. I learned from working with some very good photographers.
To answer your question then. In addition to a PE in EE, you might want to be able to show theater, video (almost forgot that one) and photography lighting experience in your resume. Working with an architect designing interior home & office lighting works too. EE can be taught, using lighting effectively is an acquired skill.
Good point, the artsy side + technical side make you well rounded.
What about lighting applications that seem to have less room for artistic expression... I'm talking about street lighting, site lighting, and of course custom power distribution systems. Now THAT'S a lighting designer. These types of lighting applications strike me as the type where a technical background is step 1, then an artsy flair can come in 2nd. But without the fundamental technical skills in place already, work will need to be re-worked, wasting time and resources. Is there someone who has both sides of the coin? Is there SOMEONE with the electrical engineering background who should have been in art class/interior decorating class??
OK, as far as I know, the USDOT sets the standards for street lighting, so there is not much wiggle room, except maybe for large manufacturers with new proposed systems (States and local Governments follow the DOT standards - especially if any Federal funding is involved). This means that most systems are fairly stock, so it is just a matter of picking them out of a catalog. I'm not sure there is much original design work there, again with the exception of the manufacturers like GE, Siemens, Westinghouse, etc. Plus, probably a lot of that work is going on overseas these days (e.g., LEDs). I know what you are trying to get into, but my point is that not much of it requires an EE. Most of the people I work with are either CEs or MEs.