Although a specialized field, there is a generous offering of student lighting design competitions, scholarships, and grants. Of the scholarship and grant opportunities, some are merit based, while others are structured around a “design problem.” Grants for educators and academic programs also are available through the IALD Education Trust and the Nuckolls Fund for Lighting Education. Here is an overview of the primary offerings.

Note: Every effort has been made to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information. However, individuals interested in any of the following listings are encouraged to contact the individual programs to confirm deadlines and details, as this information is subject to change.


Cooper Source Awards
Deadline: Postmarked before January 31, 2008
Overview: This annual program, entering its 31st year, has both professional and student categories. Students enter conceptual design installations. The competition “focuses on furthering the understanding, knowledge, and function of lighting as a primary element in design” and requires the primary and predominant use of Cooper Lighting brands. Winners receive a cash prize of $1,500 and an invitation to a lighting seminar of the individual's choice at the SOURCE—the Cooper Lighting Center in Peachtree City, Georgia. Entry forms are available at:
Eligibility: Students in architectural, lighting, and engineering disciplines
2007 Winners:First Place: Jessica Henry, the Art Institute of Atlanta, Project: Lorenc+Yoo Design Office; Honorable Mentions: Kristie Morrison, Washington State University, Project: Mother-of-Pearl; Kendall Snow, Bellevue Community College, Project: Glow Clothing & Accessories Boutique; Awards of Recognition: Mary Bareither, Washington State University, Project: Little Village Marketplace; Andrea Tolzman, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Project: Identity Consortium

International Velux Award for Students of Architecture
Deadlines: Registration Close: March 8, 2008; Submissions Due: May 8, 2008
Overview: The International Velux Award for Students of Architecture, given every second year, challenges students to explore the theme of sunlight and daylight in its widest sense to create a deeper understanding of this specific and ever-relevant source of light and energy. “Light of Tomorrow” is the overall theme of the 2008 program. The award, which is not restricted to the use of Velux products, seeks to foster new thinking in regard to how daylight, fresh air, and quality of life can be realized through design to provide insight into the evolution of ideas and potential trends in relation to the development of Velux products and solutions. The award is organized in cooperation with the International Union of Architects and the European Association for Architectural Education.
Eligibility: Open to any registered student of architecture—individual or team—globally. Multidisciplinary teams are encouraged. Individuals and teams must be sponsored by a faculty member from a school of architecture. Submitted projects have to have been prepared during the academic year 2006-07 or 2007-08.

Koizumi International Lighting Design Award
Deadline: Application period is from September 1, 2007 to January 31, 2008
Overview: In 1987, Koizumi Sangyo Corp. announced its Lighting Culture Research project and launched the Koizumi International Lighting Design Competition for Students with the phrase “The Way of Light” as its long-term theme. The competition's goal is “to improve the culture of lighting design and to develop young new talent.” Over the past 15 years more than 20,000 students representing 37 countries have participated in the program. In 1992, the theme “Lighting Ecology,” acknowledging both societal and environmental concerns, was added to the competition's mandate. The proposed theme for the 21st competition is “In Search of the Way of Light, Maximum Light with Minimum Material.”
Eligibility: Any student from an institute of learning as of September 1, 2007. There is no limit to the number of entries and each person may enter as many times as they wish. A work may be submitted by a group of students. Entries are sent to the respective regional contacts. A full list is available on the competition website. The U.S. contact is: Ms. Sophie Ugumori, Koizumi Lighting Design, 5 Eason Drive Ridge, New York 11961; tel/fax: 631-345-3610;

Luraline It's your Light! Student Design Competition
Deadline: April 30, 2008
Overview: This annual competition, now entering its seventh year, solicits original design concepts for lighting fixtures from design and architecture students throughout the United States. The theme of each competition changes annually. The 2008 competition will focus on “Lighting of the Future.” Entries are judged by lighting industry professionals and evaluated on creativity, design feasibility, thoroughness of technical data, and the overall presentation of the submission. Winners receive a cash prize of $1,500. Luraline also reserves the right to put the luminaire into production.
Eligibility: The competition is open to Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 semester students pursuing a degree in design and/or architecture. The winner is chosen at the end of the school year in June 2008. Entry forms are available at:

Robert Bruce Thompson Annual Student Light Fixture Design Competition
Deadline: April 4, 2008 (postmarked)
Overview: A 25-year veteran of the lighting industry, Bruce Thompson's lighting career spanned from architectural lighting design for theater and retail projects to the manufacturing side of the industry as a vice president of sales and marketing. Always emphasizing design and innovation in his work, Thompson also was an accomplished light fixture designer. He established this independent competition to encourage creativity and education in light fixture design and manufacturing. The Robert Bruce Thompson Trust, established in 1999 by Bruce Thompson's estate, administers the competition. Four awards are given: First prize is a cash award of $6,000 and a trophy, second prize is a cash award of $3,000 and a plaque, third prize is a cash award of $2,000 and a plaque, and special citation is recognized with a cash award of $500 and a plaque.
Eligibility: Entrants must be full time students enrolled in an academic degree program—architectural engineering, architecture, interior design, theater, and industrial design—in the United States. Only individuals may apply. A faculty member must sponsor the application.
2007 Winners:The designs are discussed in the Nov/Dec A|L issue.

2008 NYC Student Lighting Competition, IES NY Section
Deadline: Applications: March 28, 2008; Project submissions: April 16, 2008
Overview: Celebrating its eighth year, the theme of the 2008 NYC Student Lighting Competition is "Evocative Luminance." Students are asked to explore light as an art form, demonstrate light as a stimulus, and prove light as a valuable medium. The design challenge is to develop a three-dimensional study of light and to show how light can be used to trigger an emotion or spark a memory. Entries can be made of any material, must be transportable in a taxicab, and must include at least one electric light source. No open flames or flammable sources are allowed. First place receives a cash award of $3,000, airfare and accommodation to a 2008 Professional Lighting Design Association (PLDA) workshop, and a one-year subscription to PLD magazine. Second place receives a cash prize of $1,500 and a one-year subscription to PLD magazine. Third place receives a cash prize of $1,000 and a one-year subscription to PLD magazine.
Eligibility: Art and design school students in the five boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island) of New YorkCity are eligible. Past winners have included students from Barnard, Cooper Union, the Fashion Institute of Technology, the New York School of Interior Design, Pratt Institute, and Parsons the New School for Design. Questions, contact:
2007 Winners: First Place: Chung-Jung Liao, Parsons the New School for Design, "Mandala in Light"; Second Place: Sara Elizabeth Foley, the Cooper Union , "The Light Prism"; Third Place: Ross Guntert, Parsons the New School for Design, "Refracted by Levers." The designs are discussed in the April/May A|L issue.

Ultralights Lighting Design Competition
Deadline: The 2007 competition closed November 15, 2007. No winner had been announced as of press time. The 14 submissions from this year's program can be viewed at the website listed above.
Overview: Partnering with the University of Arizona's College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and the School of Architecture, Tucson, Arizona-based lighting manufacturer Ultralights developed this program to bring the disciplines of architecture and lighting closer together, and as a means to work with the local community. The competition also serves to introduce students to the importance of lighting and the manufacturing process. Students are asked to design a light fixture for an architectural space outlined in the competition brief, which changes annually. An award of $1,500 is given for first place and $500 for the runner-up.
Eligibility: Open to all students enrolled in the University of Arizona College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, and the School of Architecture, during the Fall 2007 semester. Individuals or teams may enter.
2006 Winners: The designs are discussed in the Nov/Dec 2006 A|L issue.


2008 The Arup Student Award
Contact: Rogier van der Heide,
Type of Award: Fellowship
Overview: The Arup Student Award commenced in 2005 and is sponsored by Arup Lighting through the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD). The award provides a recent graduate from a course of study primarily focused in lighting design to work for three months in Arup's Amsterdam or London office, along with housing and a modest stipend. Conceived by lighting designer Rogier van der Heide, associate director and global leader of Arup Lighting, the idea behind the award is to provide a recent graduate a more involved experience than a traditional internship might. To that end, students work on projects tailored to their interests, and are involved in every capacity including direct client interaction. Arup Lighting has pledged $5,000 for five years. Todate only one award has been made. See "Highlight: First Person,"Architectural Lighting, Nov/Dec 2007

Besal Lighting Education Fund
Types of Award: Scholarships
Deadline: Spring. Contact the Fund for 2008 dates.
Overview: The Besal Fund was established in 1983 as a nonprofit endowed fund to honor the memory and leadership of the late Robert J. Besal, who was a vice president for Lithonia Lighting. Through a specific process, the Fund offers scholarships to university students studying Illumination or Lighting.

The Fund's leaders recently reviewed their 20-year history to refresh the Fund's mission statement and to streamline the application process. The Fund's mission is:

  • To recognize academically gifted students and encourage them to continue their pursuit of a career in the lighting industry.
  • To continue offering merit based scholarships to those throughout the United States that are studying the lighting sciences and related areas.
  • To continue its commitment to the lighting industry and to sustainand foster increasing interest in it.

Eligibility: Scholarships are merit based. Universities must qualify to nominate students. Students who are nominated must have a minimum GPA of 3.0/4.0. Each candidate must demonstrate outstanding academic performance and strong potential for careers in lighting. Students on campuses that have qualified as Besal campuses can apply through their university's Besal liaison. No awards are given directly to the student. The Fund invites all accredited institutions to apply for qualification. Each university will need to appoint a faculty representative to serve as their campus liaison between their institution and the Fund's liaison, Marsha Burman, director, human resources planning and development, Lithonia Lighting.

Besal The Howard Brandston Student Lighting Design Education Grant
Deadline: May 1, 2008
Types of Award: Grant
Overview: The purpose of the Howard Brandston Student Lighting Design Education Grant is to foster good lighting design and to advance the appreciation of lighting as an art. The grant was established to encourage and recognize students who have demonstrated exceptional professional promise through the presentation of an original and ingenious solution to a supplied design problem. The 2008 design-problem is to create a lighting design scheme for a new educational facility planned for an existing university campus. Full details are available on the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) website. The award is a plaque and a $1,000 check.
Eligibility: Applicants must be full-time students enrolled in an approved academic degree program. Approved programs are those offering a substantial core of illumination studies and are either engineering technology programs accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology; architecture programs accredited by the National Architectural Accreditation Board; interior design programs accredited by the Foundation for Interior Design Research; or theater programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theater. Group entries will be accepted. However, if a group entry is selected, the group will receive the plaque and the $1,000 check will be presented to the group as a whole.

IALD Education Trust
Types of Award: Scholarships, Internships, and Educator Grants
Deadline: Scholarship applications must be submitted to the International Association of Lighting Designers headquarters office in Chicago by mid-February.
Overview: The IALD Education Trust provides scholarships directly to students for the purpose of promoting the study of lighting design. The Trust offers two programs to lighting design students: the IALD scholarship program and the lighting design internship program.
Scholarships: Funding and travel opportunity to attend Lightfair. In 2007, the Trust funded seven students for a total of $17,000.
Eligibility: Applicants for scholarships must be students who are pursuing architectural lighting design as a course of study. The student will be judged on grades, extracurricular activities, a written statement about a personal experience with lighting, and supporting artwork. If scheduling allows, the Trust brings the winners of the IALD Scholarships, at the Trust's expense, to the IALD Awards ceremony held at Lightfair.
Internships: The IALD also coordinates internships in independent lighting design offices and lighting manufacturing firms. Positions are available worldwide and, although most are available during the summer, there are opportunities at other times of the year as well.
IALD Education Trust Grant to Enhance: This grant was developed to provide five years of continuous funding opportunity "to enhance architecturallighting design education at the university level. The recipient will receive $50,000 over the course of five years for a total of $250,000."
The 2007 Grant to Enhance Architectural Lighting Design Educationwas awarded to Dr. Kevin Houser, associate professor of architectural engineering at the Pennsylvania State University, for a five-year project to "Create an Alliance to Nurture Design in Lighting Education."

Project Candle
Contact: Dr. Kevin Houser,
Overview: The IALD Education Trust funds one-third of the $750,000 Project CANDLE program, one-third is funded by the Pennsylvania State University, and one-third is funded by lighting industry partners. Among the industry partners are Cooper Lighting, Litecontrol, Lutron Electronics, the U.S. Department of Energy, and more than a half-dozen lighting design firms.
Project CANDLE will integrate student recruitment and curriculum enhancement with industry research. One of the program's chief goals is to increase the number of graduates who are qualified for entry-level jobs in the lighting industry. A related goal is to ensure that course work and educational experiences are responsive to industry needs such that graduating students have the right set of attitudes, skills, and abilities forcareers in the lighting professions. Project CANDLE also will facilitate a higher percentage of student involvement in professional societies and will support interactions between students and the professional community.
One activity key to Project CANDLE's success is the creation of the IALD Student Ambassador Award. This award will be given to outstanding lighting design students who advance the profession by speaking to high school students. A doctoral fellowship also will be created to supporta Ph.D. student dedicated to becoming a future educator in lighting design. Project CANDLE will work to enhance the quality of Penn State graduates with the creation of a workshop and roundtable that brings industry, students, and faculty together to examine the relevance of current curriculum with the future needs of the industry. In this same vein, student projects will be defined and implemented with input from the annual roundtables. Project CANDLE will commence Summer 2008.

The Nuckolls Fund for Lighting Education
Deadline: February 1, 2008
Types of Awards: Awards and Grants
Overview: The Nuckolls Fund for Lighting Education was established in 1988 to support college-level lighting programs that enable students to learn, appreciate, and apply the basics of lighting and design. Created in honor of Jim Nuckolls who, at the Parsons School of Design, introduced lighting in the continuing education program and initiated the curriculum that allowed Parsons to become the first school to give a master's degree in lighting design.
Each year, the Fund solicits proposals from colleges and universities for innovative educational ideas that will inspire students with an understanding of light in architecture. Submissions are evaluated by the Fund's board of directors, which includes people from a cross section of the lighting industry as well as the academic community.
In 2007, the Fund gave $55,000 in grants and to date has made a total of $500,000 in awards drawn from the income generated by its endowment.The endowment is entirely the result of continuing financial support from a wide spectrum of the lighting community.
The Fund, set up as an endowment, has been awarding grants in support of lighting programs since 1989. Currently it funds three annual grants and two annual awards. They are:

  • The Nuckolls Fund Grant: Given to assist the development of a new or expanded course in lighting in an established lighting program. This grant is funded at $20,000.
  • The Lesley Wheel Introductory Lighting Program Grant: Given to assist the development of a lighting course at a college or university, which has minimal or no lighting courses. This grant is funded at $20,000. In 2004, the Nuckolls Fund board of directors renamed this grant in Wheel's honor. A pioneer of lighting design, the Nuckolls Fund was one of her "ideas." Without her initial $40,000 contribution and her office assembling the necessary paperwork to become incorporated as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the Nuckolls Fund would not exist today.
  • The Edison Price Fellowship Grant: Enables a lighting educator to enhance his or her own education to improve the ability to teach lighting.This fellowship is funded at $10,000. The Nuckolls Fund established the Edison Price Fellowship Grant in 1999.
  • The Jonas Bellovin Student Achievement Award: Given to a student who has demonstrated outstanding performance in an established lighting program. This $5,000 annual award is given to a single individual for his or her use for education-related purposes and must be nominated by a faculty member who provides a description indicating the reasons why that particular student deserves to receive the award. A grant recipient might use the money for further education, to pay off student education loans, to relocate to obtain a position within the lighting industry, or for any other appropriate education-related purpose. The award was established in 2003, with a generous $200,000 pledge in memory of Jonas Bellovin from the Bellovin Family Foundation. Bellovin was the founder of Legion Lighting located in Brooklyn, New York.
  • The Jules Horton International Student Achievement Award: Given to an international student studying lighting in the United States who has demonstrated outstanding performance in an established lighting program. This award is funded at $5,000. The award was established in 2007, with a $25,000 pledge by Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design in memory of Jules Horton. The Nuckolls Fund has committed to raise a total of $200,000 over the next two years.

Eligibility: Proposals are accepted only from educators at academic institutions in North America. In addition to the existing grant and award opportunities, there is a new grant option available for 2008: Proposals can be submitted for ideas that would further the cause of quality lighting education but do not fall into one of the listed grant categories.Proposals should include a plan for implementation and should conform to the required submission information listed in the other requests for proposals.
Boston Architectural College: A group of faculty led by Daniel A. Weissman will use their $20,000 grant to develop and introduce course work for three new half-semester design workshops to be named Introduction to Lighting Principles in Design, Advanced Green Electric Lighting Design Workshop, and Advanced Daylighting Design Workshop. Upon completion of the grant period, they plan to create additional course material to expand the program into a minor in Lighting Design and a certificate in Lighting Design. They also plan to have their students prepare for and take the National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Professions (NCQLP) examination to gain the Intern Lighting Certified (LC) status.
Art Center College of Design: Penny Herscovitch and Daniel Gottlieb in the Environmental Design Department of the Art Center College of Designin Pasadena, California, will use their $20,000 grant to develop and deliver a new ongoing course to be named Advanced Lighting Design Studio: Light, Materials & Technology. This course will be taught in California and the same faculty also will teach it at the Tama Art University in Japan aspart of a Pacific Rim exchange program between the two schools.
Edison Price Fellowship: Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg, University of Idaho in Boise
Jonas Bellovin Scholar Achievement Award: Megan Christen, University of Colorado at Boulder.

Richard Kelly Grant
Deadline: January 30, 2008.
Overview: The New York Section of the Illuminating Engineering Society established The Richard Kelly Grant in 1980. Originally conceived as a scholarship program and later opened to young people working in lightingin North America, the grant is administered by the New York Section under the auspices of the IESNA. The purpose of the grant is to recognize and encourage creative thought and activity in the use of light. Cash awards will be granted to the people who preserve and carry forth Richard Kelly's ideals, enthusiasm, and reverence for light. The applicant must demonstrate accomplishment as well as the potential to contribute to the art and science of illumination. Proposed, completed, and on-going work involving light may be submitted and should clearly illustrate the way in which the conceptual or applied use of light in new and innovative ways is used to solve or better understand a problem.
Eligibility: Anyone 35 years or under studying or working in the art and/or science of illumination in the United States, Canada, or Mexico may enter.

Robert E. Thunen Memorial Scholarships
Deadline: Applications and letters of recommendation should be submitted before April 1 of each year.
Type of Award: Scholarship
Overview: As this scholarship is intended to cover any and all fields of lighting (such as architectural, commercial, residential, airport, navigational theatrical or television, agricultural, vision and so forth), it is suggested that applicants review the IESNA Lighting Handbook to comprehend fully the available fields of study. Although all awards are at the discretion of the committee, it is expected that at least two $2,500 grants will be made for each academic year. In addition to an application, applicants shall submit a Statement of Purpose with respect to the applicant's lighting education and arrange for at least three letters of recommendation, at least one of which shall be from someone involved with lighting professionally or academically.
Eligibility: Full-time students in either their junior or senior year, or graduate students in an accredited four-year college or university located in Northern California, Nevada, Oregon or Washington (the late Mr. Thunen's business territory) may make applications.


Program: The NCQLP Lighting Certification Examination
Organization: National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Professions (NCQLP)
Deadline: Offered in November each year (Most recent exam was November 3, 2007) Check the NCQLP website for 2008 schedule.
Overview: For individuals in lighting or related fields, the National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Professions, a nonprofit certifying body made up of various member organizations (IESNA, IALD, NALMCO, IIDA, LRC, NAILD, NEMA, NYSERDA, NEEP, and FEMP), offers a certification program that involves an examination that tests basic knowledge of lighting techniques and technologies. The test includes 180 multiplechoice questions, 80 of which are job-related case studies. Upon passing the exam, individuals become Lighting Certified (LC). The certification needs to be renewed every three years. LC status can be maintained by meeting one of the following within each three-year cycle: successfully complete the current LC examination, earn 36 lighting education units (LEU) in approved areas of professional development, or earn 18 LEUs and be able to document 25 years of lighting experience.
In 2000, students were able to sit for the exam as Intern LCs through the NCQLP Intern Program. Students from an accredited college offering a minimum of 12 credit hours in lighting or lighting related courses within one year of graduation can apply to take the LC Examination as an Intern Student.
The 2007 LC Candidate Handbook, including all application materials, may be downloaded from the NCQLP website in the Spring of 2007. The NCQLP does not provide any preparation courses for the LC examination, however, other organizations and institutions do, for example manufacturer lighting education centers and The Lighting Education Institute in Exton, Pennsylvania (, dedicated to professional lighting education and founded by Craig A. Bernecker, who developed and directed the lighting program at Penn State University.
Eligibility:One must have either a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and three years of lighting-related work experience or six years of lighting-related work experience. A completed exam application is required along with an exam fee: $575 (early, August); $675 (final, September).
2006 NCQLP Results and Statistics: 268 lighting practitioners sat for the 2006 examination, with a pass rate of 80 percent. This brings the total number of lighting certified individuals to 1,656. Of those who successfully completed the 2006 test, 18 percent identify themselves as electrical engineers and 26 percent as lighting designers/consultants. Approximately 27 percent list experience levels at 6-10 years, with another 39 percent indicating 11-20 years of experience. An average of 57.2 percent of the new LCs hold bachelor degrees, while 11.4 percent have advanced degrees. IESNA members account for 49 percent of new LCs, with an average of 61 percent over nine years; 7 percent belong to the IALD, averaging 10.2 percent. 8.5 percent are registered engineers. In the Intern LC category, 13 students took the exam—three students from the University of Nebraska, nine students at Penn State, and one student attending the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Eleven of those have now earned their designation as Intern LC. There are now a total of 48 Intern LCs. Since the Intern Program began in 2000, 19 Intern LCs have become full LCs.


Program: Vox Juventa
Contact: Michael Rohde, e-mail:
Overview: This program, entering its fourth year in 2008, for student and young designer work, provides an opportunity to present original papers, share research findings, share and exchange ideas with peers and lighting professionals, and promotes collaboration between universities and schools of higher education offering lighting design programs.
The most recent Vox Juventa took place October 27, 2007 during the first Professional Lighting Design Convention in London. Six papers, selected from a submission pool of 30, were presented. Than van Tran from Vietnam, at Ph.D candidate at the London Metropolitan University spoke on the subject of sustainable daylighting design in tropical regions. Deike Canzler, a lighting designer in Stockholm presented her work on information by intuition ? an architectural lighting installation with a phenomenological approach. James Clar, who received his masters degree from New York University's Interactive Telecommunications program presented his work on lighting design and visual systems. Paula Longato presently a master's student at the University of Wismar gave a talk on the history of daylight in office buildings. Misty LaRae Owings, a graduate of the lighting program at the University of Nebraska Omaha ? Lincoln spoke on the topic of the effects of lighting in neonatal intensive care units. The final presentation was given by Sachiko Segaw of Japan, a master's student at the Royal Technical College in Haninge, Stockholm, who discussed the relationship of light and water.
The next Vox Juventa will take place in Spring 2008 and is being organized by Professor Michael Rohde at Hochschule Wismar, University of Technology, Business, and Design, Wismar, Germany.
Eligibility: Students of lighting design, architecture, or related disciplines,master's students, Ph.D. students, practicing independent lightingdesigners, or young educators in the field of lighting design. Entrantsmust not be older than 30 years old.