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Theatre alumni apply Penn State experience to the tech front

College of Arts and Architecture alumni Tyler Hoffman and Mike Birardi are using the skills and experiences they gained as Theatre Design and Technology majors to bring all kinds of venues to life.

In 2017, the duo founded Illuminated Integration, an audio, video and lighting company based in Harrisburg that works with clients – from amusement parks to churches to schools – to design and install comprehensive technology systems for diverse applications on and off stage.

Illuminated Integration averages about 120 projects per year and has served more than 300 clients, including Hersheypark, Dorney Park and Penn State.

Lightning Racer at Hersheypark. Courtesy Illuminated Integration.

“We translate a client’s needs into the technology to help them do what they want,” Birardi said. “Part of our projects throughout the year are repeats, and some are brand-new clients.”

The company has worked all over the East Coast, and while they have a design and demonstration space in Harrisburg, part of their business model is working on-site with clients.

From the initial design to 3D modeling and then installation, jobs such as installing new cameras at a church may take only a few months, while larger jobs, like setting up Hersheypark’s haunted house, could take a few years.

“Our whole thing is about having a good relationship,” Birardi said. “We want to have that open client communication.”

The business partners met at Penn State while working tech on a show when Birardi was a freshman and Hoffman was a senior.

Penn State didn’t just bring a lasting friendship, the duo said, but provided them with a “playground” to develop the skills to be able to create Illuminated Integration.

The programs we went through, theatre technology and design with an emphasis in lighting, helped me understand some of the technology basics. It really showed me how I can bring theatre performance into an install-environment.” – Tyler Hoffman

Outside the classroom, Hoffman and Birardi said they took advantage of Penn State’s network chain.

“I met tons of different alumni and they were willing to be there as mentors,” Birardi said. “If I ever had a random question in college, I could email them, and there are some who I still consider mentors to this day.”

As of February 2023, Illuminated Integration employees 26 people and is looking to hire.

For more information about Illuminated Integration, contact Birardi at mike@illuminated-integration.com or Hoffman at tyler@illuminated-integration.com.

Written by: Ainsley Spitz