Miami University Student Places in Light Fixture Design Competition

Alli Brooks project Arc ID2020decathlon2020decathlon students

Interior Design student Alli Brooks has won 2nd place in the 2020 Robert Bruce Thompson Annual Student Light Fixture Design Competition. 

The $2,500 Award of Distinction was made to Alli Brooks for her custom-designed light fixture, “Nocturnal.” Intended for application to the roofs of bus shelters and other outdoor public environments, the product combines a skylight with a light-emitting diode (LED) light source to form an integrated natural and artificial light source.

One of Alli’s main design goals was for the fixture to be stand-alone. Following the precedent of “all-in-one” type solar-powered street lights, Nocturnal fixtures can be placed in any location that has access to the sun, without connection to the electrical grid. Her project statement begins, “The concept behind Nocturnal starts with the sun. As the sun rises and falls throughout the day, this light fixture absorbs solar energy that powers the light enough to glow just like the sun but throughout the night.”

Alli’s presentation drawings detail how the fixture would be assembled. Photovoltaic (PV) cells are arrayed in a crescent shape around a circular polycarbonate skylight opening. An inverter and battery pack are hidden within the fixture housing. Stored power is fed to an LED flexible sheet, also formed in the shape of a crescent, that gradually brightens as the sun goes down.

The competition organizers remarked on the design’s crescent theme and commended the proposal for buildability and sustainability. The project was an assignment in the Spring 2020 ARC 414 Environmental Control Systems II course taught by Associate Professor Mary Ben Bonham.

About the competition:
The RBT National Student Light Fixture Design Competition is the largest student lighting fixture design competition in US and requires that entrants must be full time students, enrolled in an accredited academic degree program in the United States. Approved programs include architectural engineering, architecture, interior design, theatre, or industrial design programs. Because of the high level of competition, the competition sponsors recommend that entrants be undergraduate seniors or graduate students.

Bruce Thompson was a twenty-five year veteran of the lighting industry. He had a broad background in the profession having worked in theatre, retail, as a factory representative, and concluding his career in manufacturing as vice president of sales and marketing. Throughout his career Bruce emphasized design and innovation. He was also an accomplished light fixture designer. He established this independent competition to encourage creativity and education in light fixture design and manufacturing. The competition is administered by The Robert Bruce Thompson Trust, which was formed solely for the purpose of conducting the competition.


Specifications for Alli Brook's light fixture.