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Troy, N.Y. -  5/23/2018

LRC Graduate Student Wins Thesis Prize for Research on Lighting Technology

Rensselaer’s Lighting Research Center graduate student Olivia Privitera was recently awarded the prestigious 2018 Thesis Prize from the New York City Section of the Illuminating Engineering Society (IESNYC). Ms. Privitera’s master’s project explored the use of additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing, to create custom thermal management components for LED lighting fixtures.
“The use of 3-D printing for lighting is a growing field with high interest among lighting manufacturers who are looking to create custom, aesthetically pleasing LED products at lower costs,” said Dr. N. Narendran, the LRC’s director of research and graduate education programs. Olivia’s master’s project investigated how 3-D print parameters affect the thermal properties of printed components. The findings are important for optimizing heat sinks when 3-D printing. “Olivia’s project was chosen for its holistic approach of scholarship, design of experiment, data collection, analysis, and discussion of results, all of which contribute important knowledge to LED luminaire development using advanced 3-D printing,” said Dr. Narendran, who also served as Olivia’s adviser.
Dr. Narendran noted that these developments are important for adding value to solid-state lighting because they can help drive the industry toward lower cost mass customization of LED fixtures. Thermal management is one of several areas in which the LRC’s Solid-State Lighting Program is exploring the potential for 3-D printing
Olivia, who graduated this month with an M.S. in Lighting from Rensselaer, previously completed her M.F.A. in Painting & Drawing with Honors at the State University of New York at New Paltz. During her Fine Arts studies at New Paltz, Olivia also worked with advanced manufacturing technologies to generate 3-D printed product designs and prototypes for private clients. Olivia’s artistic interests in the study of light and 3-D printing applications for manufacturing and design led her to the Lighting Research Center. During her time at the LRC, Olivia also worked with 3-D printable fixture design.
“It has been an honor to learn from the research scientists at the LRC. I came here because of the dedicated multi-disciplinary approach to lighting. 3-D printing is a continually emerging field demonstrating potential in industry-specific applications, affording designers and engineers the opportunity to work together in new capacities. I am thankful for the skills and knowledge I have developed working at the LRC this year. The research scientists and professors are consistently accessible and happy to assist students,” said Olivia.
Integrating functional 3-D printed components into unique fixture design to add visual appeal remains her primary interest moving forward. She will work at the LRC for the summer of 2018 as a research assistant to continue some of these studies.
3-D printing is just one of several new up-and-coming research topics that students explore when they enroll in the LRC’s lighting graduate program. The M.S. in Lighting program at Rensselaer is a 9-month degree program that allows students to engage with world-class faculty experts in architecture, engineering, design, and biosciences. Students enrolled in the M.S. in Lighting program explore emerging trends in areas such as lighting for circadian health and wellbeing, Internet of Things (IoT) and connected lighting, 3-D printing of lighting components, lighting for plant health, aviation and automotive lighting, and other topics in lighting technology, application, and design. The LRC attracts students with undergraduate degrees in engineering, physics, biology, psychology, architecture, and design. The program culminates in a master’s project in the second semester during which each student focuses on a particular area of interest under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Upon graduation, students have the opportunity to participate in a paid externship for three months or more with one of many lighting organizations that have agreed to host LRC students. Rensselaer also offers a Ph.D. in Architectural Sciences with a concentration in lighting. 

The IESNYC Thesis Prizes are awarded to three students, one from Parsons School of Design, one from the Lighting Research Center, and one from the New York School of Interior Design, who 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. 

About the Lighting Research Center
The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the world's leading center for lighting research and education. Established in 1988 by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the LRC conducts research in light and human health, transportation lighting and safety, solid-state lighting, energy efficiency, and plant health. LRC lighting scientists with multidisciplinary expertise in research, technology, design, and human factors, collaborate with a global network of leading manufacturers and government agencies, developing innovative lighting solutions for projects that range from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to U.S. Navy submarines to hospital neonatal intensive-care units. In 1990, the LRC became the first university research center to offer graduate degrees in lighting and today, offers a M.S. in lighting and a Ph.D. to educate future leaders in lighting. Learn more at

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America's first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.