Student lighting competitions, regardless of whether their focus is on a project or luminaire, play an important role in the educational opportunities available to students. While limited in number, as are grants and scholarships associated with a specific design problem, these competitions provide needed monetary prizes that aid in covering tuition and expenses associated with attending industry conferences and events such as Lightfair.
Equally important, these competitions provide students with a creative outlet to explore ideas related to light. For some students it is their first foray into lighting, and the competition format serves as an excellent complement to their existing coursework, regardless of whether their primary course of study is architecture, engineering, interior design, or lighting.
The programs vary depending on how they are administered and who is eligible. The Robert Bruce Thompson Annual Student Light Fixture Design Competition (rbtcompetition.org) is overseen by a private trust and is open to students enrolled in an accredited program. The Saul Goldin Memorial Lighting Design Competition (iesla.org) is reserved for southern California residents and is overseen by the Illuminating Engineering Society's (IES) Los Angeles Section. On the east coast, the IES's New York City Section administers the Richard Kelly Grant (iesny.org/RichardKelly.aspx), directed at students and young professionals under the age of 35.