Where Are They Now?

IESNYC Past Scholarship Winners Discuss What They Are Doing Now and How the Scholarship Helped Them Achieve Their Goals

Brigid Hardiman, MIES

I am still working at Lightcraft, which is the architectural lighting division of AKF Engineers. I’ve been there for over a year now, having started when I was still at NYSID. Working within an engineering firm has been a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with other building design trades. Having a more well-rounded understanding of other building systems has done a lot for my understanding of lighting design. I am especially interested in healthcare lighting and the effects of light on human wellness. Lightcraft and AKF do a lot of work in the healthcare sector and I am really enjoying expanding my skillset in that area.
I still co-chair the IESNYC Student Lighting Competition, which is one of my favorite days of the year! We have a passionate committee that works hard to coordinate every detail of the event from catering and videography to selecting a keynote speaker and panel of judges. But while we do all of that, the competing students are working even harder. The Student Lighting Competition is a challenge of abstract thought, craftsmanship, and understanding of light. It is so exciting to see the results. And every year we take steps to help the competition grow and increase the networking opportunities for the students. This year’s theme is “Lumimorphosis”, an exploration of the relationship between light and growth. As far as other volunteer efforts, I have some ideas to further benefit the lighting student community. Stay tuned, I’m planning to expand on that this Spring!
The IESNYC Scholarship has been a big help in getting my student loans under control, which is, of course, the more obvious benefit of winning. But it also gave me confidence in my ideas and has signaled to me that my career is on the right path. And it’s not just winning the award that has been helpful. Writing the application essay itself is what inspired my specific volunteer plans for the future. So, I encourage everyone who is eligible to apply. You never know what you’ll learn about yourself in the process. My advice to this year’s recipient is to pay it forward. Being selected for this award indicates that you have the potential to be a leader in lighting. This positions you to be an excellent mentor for other lighting professionals whether it’s to the new students at your school or the entry-level person in your office. And don’t forget all the ways there are to get involved in the lighting community in this city! Take a look around to see who may benefit from your skills and ideas.

Zachary Pearson, MIES

It has been two years since I was awarded the IESNYC Merit Scholarship. Since then, I have completed my bachelor’s degree in architecture, graduating at the top of my class with a summa cum laude degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in May of 2018. That summer and fall, I completed an internship with a company that specializes in design and fabrication for world class theme parks and museums. In the spring, I resumed my master’s studies at the Lighting Research Center and completed my degree in Architectural Lighting in May of 2019. My Master’s project, Public Light Art and Community Engagement Through Civic Light, involved a study of regional and international light festivals. The IESNYC Scholarship supported my research trips which took me to Ontario, Canada for the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights, Binghamton, NY for LUMA Projection Arts Festival, Corning NY for Parade of Lights, and Montreal, Canada to experience Aura, Foresta Lumina, and Montreal en Histoires. My investigation also took me to Paris, the City of Lights and Lyon for Fête des Lumières as well as the Netherlands for the Amsterdam Light Festival. The festivals varied in duration from a single night to three months and from a dozen exhibits to more than forty. Through a series of interviews with several Festival lighting designers and technicians in addition to surveys of Festival participants, I was able to ascertain the design intent of various light installations as well as gauge the reaction of their desired effect on an audience. I also developed theories about what makes a festival engaging and captivating. The culmination of my comprehensive research was to produce a light festival in my community based on my observations and findings. On February 22, 2019, Winter Lumify, a collection of immersive light installations, projections and photo ops which I designed in collaboration with twenty business owners and then created, hand crafted, installed and curated, was presented as a part of Troy Night Out in Troy NY.

I joined Fisher Marantz Stone in June of 2019 and I have been working as a Lighting Designer on a wide array of projects from high end retail to premier office spaces from coast to coast as well as across Asia. I was also honored to be part of the light aiming team for the “Tribute in Light,” the annual 9/11 commemoration. I made a presentation of my Master’s work as the Keynote Speaker for the 2019 IESNYC Thesis Awards Ceremony and I hope to be presenting soon at both a general IESNYC meeting and at upcoming large scale events. I encourage future imaginative lighting designers to follow their passions and benefit from the support of the IES in their endeavors while finding a way to give back to the lighting community.

Evan Wilson, MIES

I work for The Lighting Practice’s Philadelphia office. My position as Lighting Designer II involves being a design lead on large projects and a project manager on small to medium sized projects. The projects I handle usually fall under healthcare, government work, retail and hospitality. As a firm, however, we see almost every type of lighting project. Additionally, I am a board member of the Philadelphia Section of the IES as well the committee chair for media and our annual Design With Light student competition.

The IESNYC scholarship was brought to my attention at a time when I didn’t know how I was going to pay for my master’s degree. My original plans for funding fell through at the last minute and my options were to either find new funding or forget about grad school all together. Taking on the entire cost of tuition would have been unthinkable and unsustainable in the long run. If it were not for the IESNYC scholarship, I would not have a masters and my career wouldn’t be where it is today. I owe a great deal to IESNYC and to the Society which is why I try to volunteer as much as possible.

When asked what advice I’d give to this year’s recipient, my answer is - volunteer.
The Society needs young lighting professionals with fresh ideas and a willingness to better the industry. Volunteering with the IES is also a great way to grow your professional skills. The first few years of practice for someone out of college is usually production heavy. That is to say, many new lighting professionals spend most of their time working with drawings, schedules and software and may not get much experience with soft-skills and networking. Volunteering with the IES helped me to better develop my soft-skills and made me less apprehensive about networking.

Marta Casarin, MIES

After graduating from Parsons in 2018, I started working with HLB Lighting Design, where I also interned during my studies in both Los Angeles and New York Offices. With HLB, I have been involved in many diverse projects that have strengthened my technical skills and knowledge around the application and execution of a lighting concept. I also had the opportunity to discuss design solutions with clients and have learned how to interpret their needs. Only recently, I decided to explore new ways of working, especially in a small firm. I made a switch and joined Dot Dash Lighting Design in January 2020. I always admired Christopher Cheap’s work and the way he explores different lighting solutions in every project. Also, I found myself in line with his design thinking and I am eager to collaborate with him and see what will be up next.

The IESNYC Scholarship was fundamental to complete my education at Parsons, as it greatly helped me at funding my studies. In fact, although I was admitted to the lighting program with an excellent initial scholarship, I was facing the risk to not being able to complete the master’s due to the cost of education. Thanks to the scholarship, I completed the program and graduated with honors. Moreover, my Thesis was rewarded with the prize for Lighting Application and selected for the PLDC Challenge for Round III in Berlin. That said, besides its economic value, the scholarship extended my network in the professional lighting industry and thrown me out in the field, giving me the chance to meet great designers.

The scholarship was my first great achievement as well as my first big step towards building my own career and my professional figure. To the next recipient, I would give the advice to start from the prize to continue working with passion and renovated energy. We are lucky to be in a field where lighting associations recognize and reward people’s commitment and enthusiasm towards lighting and the IESNYC Scholarship confirms that you are going in the right direction and you will be successful.
I would also invite the next recipient to take advantage of all the IESNYC initiatives - their lectures and events can grow your knowledge exponentially and you will be meeting a lot of interesting personalities. Ultimately, you will feel part of a lighting family, which is invaluable and what makes our field so unique.

Sara Dlinn

I am currently employed as a Lighting Designer at a firm in Tel Aviv, Israel. We work on local and international projects and I have been privileged to count some of the largest names in tech as clients.

The IESNYC Scholarship provided me with an integral boost, both financially as well as personally. The fact that such a reputable organization believed in me and my skills helped me to standout in the international market. I am very grateful to the IESNYC for their programs and support for fellow colleagues. I recommend to future recipients that it is important to network and be involved in student and professional organizations. Be open to opportunities, you never know where they’re going to lead you!


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