Students Shine a Light on Creativity

By Liz Sheeley

The winning project

The Singh Imagineering Lab was designed as a place where students could work on extracurricular projects and advance their education outside the classroom. In February, students were able to learn and showcase new skills when the lab hosted a smart-light building competition sponsored by Lutron Electronics.

The inaugural Lutron Competition drew interest from 25 students, with 14 teams competing. This was the first Imagineering Lab contest with industry sponsorship, with each team getting a $50 budget to build a project.

Former Imagineering Lab advisor Noah Abbott (ENG’18), who works at Lutron Electronics, approached ENG about hosting a smart light building competition, after the company had begun ramping up recruiting efforts on campus. Lutron Electronics is a global lighting technology company, with advanced products in smart lighting, control and design.

Abbott kicked off the competition with a presentation about the contest and Lutron, showing one of the company’s smart lights that has a vibrancy control, which changes the emitting spectrum of white light. This can help tune lights to match their environments and highlight artwork in new ways. Abbott demonstrated this by showing how the color of play dough changed with the light’s vibrancy adjustments.

Lutron wanted students to be creative, so the scope of the competition was broad and allowed teams to produce a wide range of products. The winner, Isabella Kuhl, designed a project called Inside Out, which is a functional art piece that depicts a man with a cloud over his head and is triggered to turn on by sound.

The third-place project
The second-place project

Second place went to Roman Addokhu for a rustic light bulb that senses and responds to its environment and can be controlled over wi-fi. Third place went to Brian Jung and Peter Siegel for the VU meter, which responds to sounds by displaying different patterns on an LED strip according to the volume of its surroundings. The first place team received $250 as a prize, second place $100 and third place $50.

Most of the teams built smart functionality into their projects, allowing the lights to be controlled by inputs like sound, or had remote control capabilities through the internet. Some of the other inventive projects include a Tupperware that changed colors depending on temperature and a lamp with a shade that would expand and contract with sound input.