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The New York City Section of the Illuminating Engineering Society Announces the Three Recipients of the 2019 Thesis Awards


The New York City Section of the Illuminating Engineering Society (IESNYC) honored Aldo Jacques Espina, Master of Fine Arts in Lighting Design, Parsons School of Design at the New School; Dinusha Thotagamamuwa, Ph.D. candidate at the Lighting Research Center (LRC) of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), and Ying Zhong, Master of Professional Studies in Lighting Design at the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID), on May 17, 2019 when they presented their theses to an audience of New York City lighting professionals. The Section will award each student $2,000.

The Thesis Awards recognizes degree candidates at graduate-level lighting programs in New York State. Selected by their professors, each one of the three theses demonstrate excellence in design and/or research, and represent the intellectual insight, rigor, and quality standards as set forth by their respective school departments and each student’s thesis committee.

“The IESNYC Thesis awards present an opportunity for our lighting community to have a first-look and see the innovative thinking the future leaders of our lighting industry are investigating, says Mike Barr, MIES, vice president of the IESNYC and an account manager at Lutron. “The IESNYC is celebrating almost a decade of recognizing the hard work and talent with the Thesis Awards. Over the years, the IESNYC has acted as a conduit, encouraging the recipients to present their work on a much larger platform at the IES National Conference. We also assist them with subsides if they are selected to present.”

“The IESNYC has been a strong voice for education within the lighting community,” says Caleb McKenzie, LC IALDA, MIES, president of the Section and a principal of US Lighting Design. “Our annual Thesis Prizes are another way our Section can support future innovators and leaders in the lighting industry. In addition to the Thesis Awards, the IESNYC programs offer year-round educational courses for members and professionals in lighting and energy as well as allied fields. We also sponsor the annual Student Lighting Competition, the Richard Kelly Grant, and the IESNYC Merit Scholarship.”

Zachary Pearson (, the 2018 IESNYC Merit Scholarship recipient who received his Masters in Lighting Design at the LRC at RPI, was the event’s keynote speaker. He presented “Public Light Art and Community Engagement Through Civic Light,” his Thesis Project, which explored eight lighting festivals in North America and Europe, culminating in a discussion about Winter Lumify, a festival he produced in Troy, NY. He was able to complete this project, in part, thanks to the money he received from the Section for winning the Merit Scholarship.

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