It seems fitting that a design competition open to college students should focus on a dorm room. That was the challenge of the 2007 Robert Bruce Thompson Student Light Fixture Competition—to create an attractive, durable dorm room light fixture to address students' general living and study needs. The student competition asked entrants to deliver appropriate light levels for a 12-by-15-foot two-person room with 9-foot concrete ceilings. The competition brief provided a recessed ceiling junction box for the electrical connection. Taking into account issues such as sustainability, light distribution, ease of maintenance, and overall cost, 72 students accepted the challenge and submitted entries.

The five-member jury, selected by the competition trustees, was composed of lighting industry professionals. This year's judges included William Blitzer, a New York-based consultant; Christopher Cuttle, senior lecturer in architectural technology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand; Ken Douglas, principal at Bloomfield, New Jersey-based Illumination Arts; Dan Gelman, president of Stony Point, New York-based Lighting Services Inc.; and Jan Moyer of Brunswick, New York-based Jan Moyer Design. The judges wanted a clean design with smart light distribution to illuminate the room and its study areas. Durability and ease of production by a manufacturer also were important judging criteria.

The competition, inaugurated in 2002, requires entrants to be full-time students with a faculty member to sponsor their application. Aside from the chance to compete for cash prizes, there is an added bonus: Students retain all intellectual property rights to their design and its documentation. Additional information and the 2008 application are available at

First Place

FIXTURE NAME Adaptations
STUDENT Heather Tyler
SCHOOL Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida
DEGREE Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design
JUDGES' COMMENTS Clean design | Practical in terms of easy construction | Illuminates the whole room | Flexible | Functional
DESCRIPTION “Adaptations” uses compact fluorescent lamps along the interior of the shell, which rotates to allow for flexible lighting levels for each user. Divided into three sections, the fixture features the center, which is stationary and houses the ballast, and two side sections that rotate in either direction 30 degrees to work with any room configuration.

Second Place

STUDENT Brenda Petroff
SCHOOL Cornell University School of Architecture, Ithica, New York
DEGREE Master of Architecture
JUDGES' COMMENTS Durable | Useful light distribution that directs light to the walls | Exemplified the use of diagrams and mock-ups
DESCRIPTION ZED features a circular dot pattern that forms a carefully selected gradient that assists in diffusing and reflecting light. Each bulb functions independently, resulting in a variety of configurations for the space. Also, ZED is dimmable from general light to mood light. According to the design plans, the lighting levels from ZED are within the ideal illuminance recommendations for dorm room activities.

Third Place

STUDENT Yeshica Marroquin SCHOOL University of Texas at Arlington, Texas
DEGREE Bachelor of Science in Interior Design
JUDGES' COMMENTS Addressed lighting issue for both students living in the room | Innovatively tackled task lighting | Great flexibility | Provided the most useful task lighting of any entry
DESCRIPTION Since dorm rooms often are shared, the Dualight dorm room fixture has two main arms that rotate individually 360 degrees around the center of the room to provide each student his or her own ambient and tasklight. Two T5 fluorescent tubes wash the walls with an indirect ambient light, while the end of each arm sports a telescoping aluminum housing with 12 LEDs. The LEDs can extend 12 inches outward and can be rotated and moved to provide task lighting where needed.