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It's cool that you guys are proud of your Art Center experience both photographically and philosophically. It reminds me of my training, approach and quest for continuous improvement and precision regarding light.
We all take different paths ... mine was heavily influenced by Dr. Doug Jenkins, "Dr. J". While he isn't well known (like AA or Muddy) in popular or photographic circles ... he was the co-inventor of night vision for the Pentagon (along with his twin brother). So when it comes to understanding light with a degree of precision that others might find impractical, it is probably as ingrained in me as significant as it is for others who think it unnecessary.
Good mentors are rare and should be treasured ... whether they are found at Harvard, on the battlefield or in Grandpa Jones Corner Store in Kornfield County. Where and how you "got it" isn't nearly as important, just so you "got it" ... and use it ... even if it is self-taught. I'll never be the mentor that "Dr. J" is, but I do try to share at least some things so that others might benefit from them. Ya win some, ya lose some, but ya keep on trying ...