A luxury hotel chain desires a sophisticated sconce that is both energy efficient and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to illuminate its 6-foot-wide, 8-foot-6-inch-high guest room corridors. This was the challenge undertaken by 81 students in response to the design problem for the 2008 Robert Bruce Thompson (RBT) Annual Student Light Fixture Design Competition.

Inaugurated in 2002, the competition is administered by the RBT Trust and promotes the education and awareness of light fixture design. This year's contest recognized seven students—the most in the program's history. In addition to first, second, and third place, four special citations were given: one for technical achievement to Elizabeth Langford of Ringling College of Art and Design; one for innovative concept to Monica White of Ringling College of Art and Design; and two for presentation to Brian Ha of Princeton University and Luke Winter of Montana State University. “We're pleased that in 2008 we conferred more awards than ever before,” says RBT trustee Patricia Glasow. “The quantity of awards is left up to the judges' discretion. If the talent is there, an award is given.”

The judges this year, selected by the trustees, included lighting designer Roslyn Cole of San Francisco–based Aidlin Darling Design; Doug Hagen, president and CEO of B-K Lighting and Teka Illumination in Madera, Calif.; Susan Porter of Denver-based M-E Engineers' in-house lighting department, illume; Thor Scordelis, senior program manager of emerging technologies at San Francisco–based Pacific Gas and Electric; and Michael Souter, principal at Luminae Souter Associates in San Francisco. “The criteria I used [in a preliminary review] included creativity, functionality, adaptability, use of materials, and credit for sustainability and energy efficiency,” Souter recalls. “The entries varied from extreme ‘out-of-the-box' thinking to simplicity, but all were worth review.”

Entrants must be full-time students and sponsored by a faculty member. The 2009 deadline is April 3, and students are tasked to design a fixture for the fitting rooms of a national retail clothing chain. For more information, visit rbtcompetition.org.

Project Robert Bruce Thompson Annual Student Light Fixture Competition
Entrants 81 full-time students
Awards Given Seven
Renderings Courtesy of Sandra Maacaron (this page and opposite page, top); Rachel Prager (opposite page, center); and Amanda McAlpine (opposite page, bottom)