Yale Undergraduate Rover Association

Though the semester is just beginning, the Yale Undergraduate Rover Association (YURA) has already been seen experimenting on science hill, laser cutting, and performing tests in the CEID. The team competed against 20 other schools at the University Rover Challenge last May, and after a strong start plans to go back again this year with a revamped arm, wheels, chassis, and soil sampling system. The competition involves four different tasks: soil sampling, equipment servicing, astronaut assistance, and terrain traversal.

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The team will be using the same suspension system as last year, having found that their rocker bogie frame was perfect for traversing the Mars-like terrain of Utah. They have, however, completely changed the rover’s arm design. This year the team will be using linear actuators instead of pullers. Team member and mechanical engineering major Pat Wilczynski (’16) likened the design to that of an excavator arm. Wilczynski has been performing tests on the fully constructed prototype arm and has found that it can lift 5.5 kg, exceeding the goal of 5 kg. Though this arm is made of laser cut acrylic, the final design will be machined and made of metal. The team also recently received what is essentially a giant wifi router, which has a range of approximately 5-10 km according to last weekend’s test.


Last year, Brian Clark (’16) and Ashton Wackym (’16) started up YURA with the goal of competing at the University Rover Challenge. Having accomplished this goal, the club is still going strong. If you are interested in learning more about YURA’s exciting work, check out their website or come to one of their weekly team meetings on Tuesdays at 7pm in the CEID.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the deaths of 3 million babies and women are preventable. WHO also estimates that 80% of all newborn deaths result from preventable and treatable conditions. A team of students at Yale has addressed this problem by creating an affordable device for the developing world. Their system, a humidified high flow nasal cannula created in the CEID, is meant to help premature and neonatal babies breath, getting them past the first 28 days of life, when many of these infant deaths occur. The team, PremieBreathe, aims to create an alternative to the devices running upwards of $5000 that can be found in hospitals across the US.


Team members Katy Chan (’15) and Jordan Sabin (’16), biomedical and mechanical engineering majors respectively, spent six days of their winter breaks visiting hospitals in Ethiopia, getting feedback on their device and seeing first hand the challenges their engineering would have to overcome. The team visited a hospital from each of the three levels of the Ethiopian health tier system: a health center, a general hospital, and a specialized hospital. The team also visited Yekatit 12 Hospital, home to one of three neonatologists in the country.


Chan noted that it was valuable to see design considerations they would not have fully understood in the US, such as the hospitals’ oxygen supplies and how they could be incorporated into PremieBreathe’s system. The team also discovered that the Ethiopian government had made a big push to ensure that its hospitals had generators, removing many concerns about power outages.


Charles Stone (’14) began work on this low cost system for his senior project last spring. When the project received funding from Yale’s Global Health Leadership Institute Chan and Sabin joined the team. The group spent the summer working on the project as a CEID Summer Fellowship. By the end of the fellowship, the team had created a proof of concept prototype, but wanted to take the project further. After a term of work, PremieBreathe has created an effective system for just $450, less than a tenth of the price of existing devices.


In the coming months the team will address the design constraints they discovered in Ethiopia. Their goals include making their system run off batteries, improving its startup time, simplifying the electronics, and decreasing the size of the housing. PremieBreathe is well on their way to completing a system that proves Sabin’s statement that “low cost doesn’t have to be an impediment to quality care.”


Final Presentations of CEID Classes

With the end of fall semester came the conclusion of the three classes taught in the CEID this past term: Medical Device Design and Innovation (BENG/MENG 404), Musical Acoustics and Instrument Design (ENAS 344/MUSI 371), and Mechanical Design Implementation (MENG 489). These presentations brought interested Yale community members into the Center over the course of three days.


Medical Device Design final presentations took place on Tuesday December 9th. The course instructors, Dr. Joseph Zinter and Dr. Jean Zhang, addressed a room full of students, faculty, doctors, and many others, as they introduced the class. The course gave students an opportunity to design a solution to problems medical professionals identify in their fields. This year, these areas for innovation included external pacemaker simulation, CPR training, hernia repair surgeries, and swallow assist systems for dysphagia patients. The interdisciplinary course had students from engineering, the history and cognitive science departments, the School of Management, and the School of Medicine. All four teams showed off their working prototypes through live demos and videos and impressed doctors and students alike.


On Wednesday, the senior mechanical engineering majors and others in MENG 489 presented their work for the capstone design class. The course focused on not only mechanical design, but also the documentation and ethics of engineering. The students were posed with challenges including creating an easy access method for electricity production for the developing world, designing a mobile power source for hikers or campers, and giving doctors an easy way to predict the risk of patients for ACL tears. As the students presented their solutions to these problems, they considered project budgets and their implications for the implementation of their designs. The impressive final products included a system that converts energy produced by a motorcycle into usable electricity, a portable system to produce energy which could be powered by crank or by wind, and electronics and programs for the analysis of knee angles in a jump, a factor linked to risk of ACL tear.


The Musical Acoustics and Instrument Design class concluded the week of presentation on Thursday with a different kind of show. In this class, each student had the opportunity to explore an area of interest by creating a musical instrument. While the instructors, Dr. Larry Wilen and Konrad Kaczmarek, helped along the way using their technical and musical backgrounds, the ideas for the instruments, from original fruition to final design, came entirely from the students. The instructors helped inspire the students’ designs through an introduction to acoustics and instrument design, including lab sessions where students made smaller scale instruments, from guitars to woodwinds.


In the presentation itself, students talked about the concepts behind their designs, and the difficulties faced in construction. Evan Doyle (’17), who made his own harp, had to figure out how to make his instrument strong enough to hold the force of the many strings, and used SolidWorks simulations to approach the problem. Many music majors immersed themselves in the field of electronics as they created instruments that required Arduinos, stepper motors, or other electronic components. Catherine Jameson (’16) created a novel instrument which can only be played when two people work together. Here the challenge lay in finding the best way to explore this conceptual space of collaboration in an actual physical design. After the brief background on their designs, the students performed for the audience on their newly created instruments. The performances were a fun and beautiful way to end the three days of presentations.


From medical devices to alternative power sources to instruments, the final projects and presentations illustrated the kinds of creative, interdisciplinary thinking that the CEID aims to foster through its courses.

Yale Aerospace Rocket Launches

“We have continuity. Alright, K1110 lightin’ up in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Ignition.”

The bright red Archimedes, a prototype multistage rocket, shot into the air straighter than any launch current team members remembered. This past Saturday, November 15th, the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association (YUAA) took two of their project teams, the rocket competition team and the multistage team, to the CTRA launch field in Cobleskill, NY to test their rockets.

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If you have ever been in the CEID on a Sunday afternoon, you will know that YUAA is one of the largest engineering clubs based out of the CEID. YUAA takes on a number of projects each year ranging from rockets and quadcopters to radio telescopes. The organization aims not only to accomplish advanced engineering goals, but also to promote aerospace at Yale and to teach its members – engineers and non-engineers alike – to make their ideas into reality. Since the first Sunday of September, all four YUAA of project teams have been meeting to learn about rocket, radio telescope, and UAV design, in order to build their own. Recently, the Radio Telescope Team finished their prototype dish using an azimuthal gear-based system powered by a stepper motor, and was able to tune in to a radio station. In the spring, they will be building a 2.6-meter diameter radio telescope with the goal of mapping hydrogen gas in the Milky Way Galaxy. The UAV Team will be flying their plane using an ardupilot, a sort of programmable autopilot, this Friday.

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This past Saturday, it was time for the rocket teams to shine.

The Rocket Competition Team tested one of their two rockets, Skylark, which will compete in the Target Altitude event at the Battle of the Rockets in March. At the competition, the rocket will need to fly to as close to 1500 ft. as possible averaged over two flights, but for Sunday, the group aimed to test their design and make sure all systems were go. The rocket flew to 1,280 ft. on a G motor, close to the predicted 1,390, especially for a gusty day. The gold rocket was a little bit difficult to find in the surrounding winter cornfields, but was recovered safely thanks to fully functional parachute deployment and altimeters.

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The Multistage Team launched Archimedes in order to test deployment and separation systems for the final multistage rocket they will build in the spring. A test for a two-stager, the sleek 9 ft. rocket has two-finned section that will eventually hold two separate motors, igniting one after another to reach higher altitudes. On just one motor, the rocket reached 2,400 ft. The bottom section, which was recording video, was recovered safely after its parachutes deployed as expected. Due to a problem with the power in the altimeter, the second stage’s chutes did not deploy. However, the rocket was well constructed and remained relatively undamaged and still flyable, despite quite the fall. The team was able to gain valuable insights for the construction of their final rocket from the launch, and recorded some amazing video footage in the process.

Preparing for the launch was not easy; in the past couple of weeks, as the teams made a push to finish their rockets, there was rarely an evening when the CEID was empty. In between laser cutting fins and bulkheads, drilling vent holes, and sanding couplers, the teams took advantage of a wide variety of the Center’s resources.

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After a three-hour bus ride back from the launch field, the teams were exhausted, but happy. In seeing what for many of them was their first rocket launch, they knew their semester of work had paid off. The teams look forward to more engineering in the spring!

YUAA is always open to new members. To learn more about the organization or how to join, visit

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Twinkling T-shirts

The CEID has always been a great place to find exciting science and engineering in unexpected subjects. This past Wednesday’s brand new workshop, Twinkling T-shirts, uncovered yet another of these opportunities. CEID Design Fellow Ngoc Doan led participants in designing their own shirts with a little extra flare.


Upon arriving at the workshop, each attendee grabbed a plain black T-shirt from a tall stack in the lecture space. They saw images of lions, wolves, Yale bulldogs and more to choose from to make their iron on their shirts, but the potential for their designs did not end there. Ngoc began to talk about the LilyPad Arduino, a Sparkfun microcontroller meant to expand the possibilities for innovation within the wearable textile space. LilyPad can connect to sensors, actuators, power supplies, and other circuit elements, not by wires, but conductive thread, allowing for easy and comfortable integration with flexible fabrics.


In the CEID workshop, participants used LEDs to light up their t-shirts. In some cases this meant glowing eyes for animals, or illuminated Yale logos. They first tested their circuits using alligator clips and wires, and then sewed them into their shirts using the conductive thread. Ngoc noted that the overlap between people with circuitry and sewing backgrounds is small, so the fabrication was a bit of a learning process for many, but people were committed. Petter Wehlin ‘17 could be seen working tirelessly past the end of the workshop, putting the finishing touches on his shirt. Once they finished their shirts, the attendees lit up the room!


Hacking Health

This past Saturday October 11th, the CEID filled with people from all corners of campus to address problems in healthcare and global health. The CEID was the second venue for Hacking Health @ Yale, which began at the Yale School of Medicine and finished at the Yale School of Management. Organized by Yale’s Center for Biomedical Interventional Technology (CBIT), InnovateHealth Yale (IHY), and the Biomedical Innovation Student Club, with help from the CEID and MIT Hacking Medicine, the event focused on innovation and entrepreneurship within the space of healthcare.


Participants were encouraged to come with ideas of problems to address and pitched them at the event kickoff on Friday. Soon these problems morphed into potential opportunities for innovation related to medical devices, patient care, and more.

The group broke off into smaller teams, each tasked with innovating in a particular healthcare space and developing a solution to a problem in this space in just one weekend. The teams took to the white board and ideated. From the post-it notes and post-it notes of crazy ideas, each group selected a concept and began fleshing it out, researching, and prototyping.


If you happened to wander over to the electronics bench on Saturday, you would have found Matt Reagor, a graduate student in applied physics, working away on what looked like a bumblebee. This bee was his team’s healthcare hack. “Getting diagnosed with Type I diabetes as a four year old is a really scary thing,” Matt explained. “It means getting a lot of needles and poking all at once into your life.” To make the experience “a little less scary and a little more fun,” the team turned a blood sugar testing device and needle into a friendly bumblebee. Their prototype involved simple Styrofoam balls with yellow and black paint. To make the bee even friendlier, Matt incorporated some simple circuits to make the wings spin when the blood is tested. They even added on a little buzzer to remind the patient to check their blood sugar levels. Over the course of the weekend, the team went from a broad problem to a functioning prototype!

This project is just one example of a simple and fun solution to a widespread problem. Another team worked on an antiseptic feeding tube, and yet another designed a system for getting a second opinion on cancer diagnoses. The event culminated in a presentation on Sunday at which the teams shared their final developed concepts and prototypes.


Look out for future exciting opportunities to innovate and problem solve through the weekly CEID emails.


Virtual Reality in the CEID and the CEID in Virtual Reality

Activity in the CEID has picked up so quickly that it is difficult to imagine that just a few months ago, the classes and clubs now filling the space had not started up for the year. However, it was anything but empty in the summer months; from June through August, the CEID Summer Fellows filled the Center. In its second year, the CEID Summer Fellowship program took on a wide variety of exciting projects, from interactive art made with printed circuits to a green climate control system for the Solar Decathlon. One team, Hack Reality, is currently working to install a station in the CEID to share their summer’s work with the wider Yale community.


Hack Reality is a team composed of two members of the class of 2016, Derek Gritz, an economics major, and Kevin Tan, a physics major. Using Oculus Rift glasses and an Xbox Kinect, the pair created an interactive virtual reality environment. In their world, not only can you visualize images in 3D through the Oculus, but you can also grab, throw, walk, and more. Because of all the hard work Hack Reality is doing interfacing software, it will ultimately be pretty simple; the Kinect senses your movement, the computer makes it a reality, and the Oculus lets you experience it.


Derek and Kevin hope that this tool may become useful in architecture, by giving designers an easy and intuitive way to actually understand how different materials, items, and colors would look in context.


To conclude the summer project, the Hack Reality imported the Google SketchUp files created by Charney Architects LLC, who designed the CEID just a few years ago. The pair incorporated changes made in the Center since its original design, from the material of the tables to little hints of each of the summer fellowship projects. Now they aim to make this tool available to the public and are finishing setting up a working station in the CEID by the end of the term. When it is complete, any CEID member will be able to put on the Oculus Rift and walk into a simulated CEID, where they can immerse themselves in a virtual, interactive CEID experience.

Musical Acoustics and Instrument Design

Since its beginning, the CEID has been pushing the bounds of engineering at Yale. This term, the Center continues this endeavor as it hosts the only course cross-listed in both music and engineering. The course, Musical Acoustics and Instrument Design, is taught by the CEID’s own Dr. Larry Wilen and the Department of Music’s Konrad Kaczmarek. The class covers topics ranging from the physics of sound waves to the design of musical instruments. The students aren’t just learning how these instruments work and building them; they are designing instrument after instrument and actually playing them!


The CEID fills with sounds when the class meets. The first project involved building a xylophone in class and developing resonators for homework. After working on the xylophone as a group, the class moved on to strings. They started simple with a pluckable one-string instrument in class. However, out of class, they turned to CorelDRAW and the laser cutter to design and make their very own violins, ukuleles, and more. The class table filled with instruments of all shapes and sizes: some that are plucked, some played with a bow, and others whose strings are simply hit. Each instrument is unique and produces a unique sound. From percussion to strings, the course has covered it.

In their most recent project, the students have taken inspiration from saxophones and other woodwinds to build an instrument with the general shape and sound of a clarinet. The group learned where to position finger holes in order to play certain sounds, and the physics of mouthpieces, as they built their own.


The students in the course aren’t just engineers: the course has attracted many musicians, with a large contingent of music majors, a cappella singers and ensemble members. The interdisciplinary nature of the course has gotten the attention of YaleNews, and even of the attendees of the NYC MakerCon. Check out this YaleNews article to see a performance on the xylophone and hear more about how the course has helped set a trend of collaboration between the arts and sciences.

Musical Acoustics and Instrument Design has brought together a whole new variety of people into the CEID, and their xylophones, guitars, and woodwinds resonate throughout the space!



CEID Workshop Kickoff

With the beginning of a new school year comes a whole new set of exciting happenings in the CEID, including classes, clubs, projects, and, of course, Wednesday Workshops! To kick off the year, there have been a few old favorites, including Bulldog Bot’s Night Light Workshop and the CEID Engine Teardowns, as well as new workshops, such as the SolidWorks workshop run by the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association (YUAA). Many of these workshops are taught by CEID staff and members of clubs affiliated with the space.


In the semester’s first workshop, participants went from no knowledge of voltage or current to building their own night lights in a matter of hours. After a quick overview of circuits, Bulldog Bots members and workshop instructors Chris Datsikas (‘16) and Bernardo Saravia (‘15) had the group soldering LEDs and resistors to protoboards. After some hard work and quick learning, everyone went home with homemade lights.


The following week, CEID Aides Riley Rice (‘15) and Genevieve Fowler (‘16) brought back the ever-popular Engine Teardown workshop. The workshop was so popular last year that staff made sure to get two more engines so that more people could participate. Attendees got their hands dirty, taking apart engines piece by piece and asking questions each step of the way.


YUAA’s Jeff Gau (‘16) and Bolun Liu (‘16) led a group that spilled out of Dunham computer lab in last week’s SolidWorks workshop. In the course of an hour, everyone had made their very own picture frame, ready to be 3D printed on the MakerBots in the CEID. A large portion of the group stayed late to learn some more advanced skills and to further customize their frames with special patterns and dimensions.


CEID workshops are meant for anyone, not just engineers, looking to learn about technology, engineering, and design. Undergraduates, faculty, and everyone in between are welcome to sign up. In the past, topics have included chocolate tempering, the science of bubbles, and musical instrument acoustics and construction. Be sure to check out next week’s workshop, in which you will get to program your own Android apps with no prior experience using MIT’s App Inventor!

CEID Class Final Projects

The students in the design-based classes taught in the CEID have been presenting their final projects this week and last. The students in these classes ave been working all term to both acquire the skills to solve the problems they faced and fully understand the problem. Once the infrastructure for innovation was laid, the students began designing and prototyping solutions.


In MENG 491, Appropriate Technology and the Developing World, the problem Instructors Joe Zinter and Robert Hopkins posed vaccine delivery in developing countries as the challenge for the class to address. Students dove into “the last mile” problem and learned about the final leg of the journey of vaccine delivery where the system does not guarantee safe delivery of unspoiled vaccines. There was also a focus on ways to encourage mothers to actually vaccinate their children once the clinics have these vaccines. The result was four student teams, each with solutions to different issues with vaccine delivery in the developing world.


The solutions included a system for alerting clinicians when the vaccines have fallen out of the proper temperature range and rethinking the packaging of vaccines. These two teams aimed to prevent vaccines from spoiling be either becoming to warm or cool and becoming unusable in addition to letting clinic workers know when vaccines were unusable to prevent delivery of the now dangerous drug. Another team designed a single use, modular vaccine system for waste reduction, and ease to the patients. A fourth and final team designed an app and bracelet to track, store, and make available to doctors information about which vaccines children had received with RFID scanners. Additionally they have begun to lay the infrastructure to actually implement this system and plan to travel this summer to receive feedback on their system for the doctors, patients, and mothers currently involved.


The ENAS 118 class has also been hard at work solving design challenges Yale based clients from the Peabody, Yale Farm, Marsh Botanical Gardens, the Yale Art Gallery, and the Math 115 course posed to them. The products this class of mostly inexperienced freshman came up with were amazing! One Yale Farm team designed a ‘Postman’ a simple wooden post with some electronics to monitor the temperature and humidity of the covered beds throughout the winter and colder months which would connect to wifi save information to a database, and alert the client when the cover should be lowered or raised. Other projects included an irrigation system for the Marsh Botanical Gardens and a computer game “Polar Plunge”, for the Math 115 class. One Peabody team designed an informative game about ants and the way they follow paths of pheromones to engage children in an otherwise adult centered photo exhibit. As younger students, the chance these potential engineers got to experience the design process, learn how to use the resources in the CEID, and get a taste of actually creating something was critical to building up the next class of innovators.


The Green Engineering and Sustainable Design class will present their final projects this coming week. In this class, Professor Julie Zimmerman has encouraged a focus on modular design with sustainable parts that can easily be disassembled and reused at the end of its life. One student group is making a bike lock that will attach through a flower pot. The product has an unobtrusive design and components that can easily come apart. Make sure to come by the CEID next week to hear about their projects!


Yale Aerospace on the Move

Floating blimps and giant rockets have filled the CEID this week. The Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association have been preparing their second and third rockets of the year, Omega and Chronos, to launch this weekend in upstate New York while also putting the final touches on their blimp for the ASME Lighter than Air Competition.


Friday the entire organization will mobilize. Two cars and a U-Haul will head to the URRG launch carrying three rockets and eleven team members. The UAV team will be launching the Omega for the first time. This 15 ft, 14 in diameter rocket is big enough to fit YUAA members inside, and, yes, this claim has been tested. They plan to fly the 100 lb rocket to 1500 ft on a L220 motor, one of the highest level you can launch in the northeast. In future launches the Omega will house a UAV in the form of an RC plane. The team has been hard at work designing and implementing a scissor wing mechanism so that the wings will fold parallel to the body to fit inside the rocket.


The Rocket Competition team has built a smaller but equally impressive rocket, Chronos. At the URRG launch, Chronos will fly to about 2500 feet as a test for its 10,000 ft flight this summer. The team will be testing portions of their payload, a system to measure the effects of relativity during the rockets assent.


The Lighter than Air team will be taking their angry birds blimp to Philadelphia where they will fly it through an obstacle course carrying a payload. Apart from the balloon shell, the team built the blimp from scratch, fighting gravity to stay afloat. In addition to helium, the blimp will use fans and a flapping tail fin to navigate through the air. Matthew Brady (’17) will pilot the craft.


With all of YUAA out at competitions, you think the CEID might empty out, but between final presentations and other fast approaching competitions, the CEID will not quiet down for a second!

2D to 3D Workshop

This past Wednesday CEID Design Aide Catherine Jameson (’16) lead the first 2D → 3D Workshop. The workshop pushed participants to think outside the 3D printer. Instead participants used the laser cutter, Xacto knives, and the shopbot to cut two-dimensional material into shapes that can be transformed into a 3D structure.


The workshop began with a brainstorm of where you might see the 3D emerging out of 2D. The ideas suggested ranged from Chairigami and forms of architecture to balloons and curling crocheted scarves. The group then constructed a chair of their own using parts cut on the shopbot. Reports were that the chair was quite comfortable!


The participants then broke off into groups either playing with foam core to create small structures from the flat surface or working on creating an outline of their own profile using Adobe Illustrator. Once everyone had had a chance to trace their profile the faces were cut out on the laser cutter. Using notched pieces of wood each participant then fit their heads onto bodies with laser cut bendable wooden necks.


On top of gaining a new understanding of the possibilities of flat surfaces through folds, cuts, and notches, everyone also left with an entirely wooden bobble head!


The Integrated Graduate Program in Physical and Engineering Biology

The CEID is a haven for students who have a passion for creating and innovating, but the students are not limited to undergraduates or mechanical engineers. Through the Integrated Graduate Program in Physical and Engineering Biology (IGPPEB), graduates studying biology can learn about the CEID’s resources and pursue projects that interest them.

This Wednesday evening, Paul Muir sat at the Makerbot station. Paul is studying synthetic biology and created a program in Matlab to convert data on the shape of proteins into stl files. The proteins can then be 3d printed in the CEID and will be used in classes to demonstrate how different proteins fit together.


When asked about her project, Catherine McGuinness, excitedly bounced over to the back corner of the CEID where she pulled out a test tube rack that she designed to easily dip test tubes in liquid nitrogen, and then 3-d printed herself. Catherine is a first year grad student with an interest in cytoskeletons and motor proteins. She studied physics as an undergraduate and is also working with Breakthrough New Haven, a program for high potential middle school students, to make components for a physics module. She designed a car, its wheels, and axles in Solidworks. She then printed these parts on the Makerbot and Objet and cut a track using the laser cutter. The students will be able to perform experiments, testing how various tracks and weight distributions effect frictional forces and how the car moves.


Jennifer Gains and Jerimiah Johnston, who study computational biology and molecular biophysics respectively, have programmed and constructed a 3D scanner. Much of the structure of the scanner was either laser cut or 3d printed right in the CEID, and the team has also been working to write code that will interpret data from the laser and construct a 3d model of the object being scanned.


The students all commented on how they loved the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of the class. Jeremiah in particular noted that the class provides an opportunity for “wetlab people to do something in a workshop.” If you see any of these projects being worked on in the CEID, don’t hesitate to ask questions; the group is eager to share!

It's a bird... It's a plane... It's Creative Thinking!

“Make a paper airplane,” Ian Gonsher said addressing the crowd containing engineering undergrads, architecture students, neuroscience researchers, and Chemistry graduates. Ian is on the faculty at the School of Engineering at Brown and led this week’s Wednesday Workshop, titled Throwing Paper Airplanes at the Moon. The group set to work, most beginning by folding an 8.5 by 11 inch piece of paper down the middle. The result was a fairly similar group of conventional looking planes with flapped wings and pointed noses. The group lined up, Ian counted down, and plain white paper flew, or in many cases flopped, through the air and to ground.


One grad student was asked which plane he thought was most successful. He pointed to the one that had traveled the farthest, giving the distant as the reason for his choice. In response Ian crumpled up a piece of paper and threw it farther than any of the planes had traveled. “But its not a paper airplane,” responded the grad student. Throughout the workshop, Gonsher pushed the participants the challenge their perceptions of a successful airplane and its performance. The workshop focused on rapid prototyping, and after a few iterations, Ian even began to suggest that some of the airborne objects were no longer airplanes.


Chris Datsikas’ (’16) first plane did a front flip reliably every time it was flown. Ian found this interesting and brought it to the attention of the group. In the next iteration a few planes played off this concept of flipping, and after a few more prototypes, the same grad student who originally picked the farthest traveling plane as the best had constructed a paper object that spun as it fell vertically.


With this move away from horizontal flight, the playing field was open. People began drawing on the pieces of paper and digging into the pile of nonpaper supplies that had been in front of them the whole time. A discussion of the release method of the “planes” resulted in a dart-like flying object launched by blowing through a straw. This circular shape inspired Alex Carillo (’16) to make a plane out of a hollow truncated paper cone, with the hope of creating a simplified design for a paper airplane that glides well.


The workshop took a step away from the usual problem solving, specific goal oriented approach of many projects, and instead emphasized a creative process where the outcome and its function are fluid. Gonsher inspired a room full of adults to step away from the bounds of what they knew and playfully create beyond the constraints of a paper airplane.


CEID Office Hours

Mark your calendars! The CEID recently began hosting weekly office hours with a variety of professors. The office hours have been and will continue to be times when you can simply walk in to the CEID and ask all of your questions. The faculty are ready to talk about research, STEM fields, academia, or careers, but are also well equipped to answer questions on just about anything.

Since the program’s beginning in mid February, the CEID has welcomed biomedical engineering professor Stuart Campbell, computer science professor Brian Scassellati, CEID Director Eric Dufresne, CSSSI Data Librarian Kristin Bogdan, and EE Research Support Specialist Kevin Ryan. The group has experience modeling human development by building robots and using all of the research resources available at Yale.


The CEID has been lucky to have Kevin Ryan hold multiple sets of office hours over the past few weeks. Ryan has offered advice on senior projects and club projects, and shared exciting insights on engineering developments from his experience in the field. Ryan has experience as a R&D engineer and has developed code and designed circuit boards for Motorola.

Office hours will continue throughout the spring semester. Stop by to ask questions and learn an interesting fact or two!

Ardiuno Workshop

Tiny tank robots, dubstep DJing, and quadcopters: these projects featured in the CEID blog were made possible by one type of microcrontroller, an Arduino.. With the guidance of CEID aide, Alex Carrillo (’16), fifteen lucky CEID members got a chance to dive into the world of Arduino programming and wiring on Wednessday at the second Arduino Workshop.


After some background on basic circuitry, the workshop participants broke up into smaller groups. Starting with only a Sparkfun Inventor kit and a little bit of extra hardware, they were able to construct three wheeled vehicles that would respond to commands imparted by code they wrote on their computers and then uploaded to the Arduino. After connecting some wiring, attaching wheels, and sending commands, they instructed their robots to travel following a line of black tape.


The flashing, pin-covered boards provide an easy interface between code written on a computer and the physical world, translating commands into action. Code can actually be uploaded to an Arduino, so its only dependence on the computer is for power. At any point the computer could be replaced with a nine volt battery and still run perfectly making these boards the perfect tool for fast and easy prototyping.



Tiny Tanks

“It’s so cute!”

The recognizable voice came from the back of the CEID. Alex Noonan (’14) was not referring to an adorable puppy, but a tiny, treaded, soon to be robot just the right size to fight in your hand.

Alex Noonan, Sam Samuelson (’14), and Spencer Alexander (’14) are designing, programming, and constructing a swarm of twelve tiny tanks to create a cooperative robotics system. The bots will independently whizz around, using sonar, photodiodes, IR sensors, and color detection to navigate and locate a specific payload to push.

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What makes this project different from many others is that these robots are not meant to be ultra smart and integrated. The group aims to create a system where each robot will act autonomously without communication with each other or a remote. The robots move around in a manner similar to ants. The insects respond to a hormone, like the bots responding to color and objects in their paths. The individual ant does not know much, but as a group, the ants can accomplish complex tasks. Similarly, the bots start with no knowledge of the arena other than that the payload is red and reflective. They do not learn and have no memory; they simply react instantaneously to conditions they see. “Intelligence arises from the system itself,” Sam says, rather than a compounding of knowledge of the surroundings.


Why not allow for memory and more intelligence, or maybe some communication between the robots? These little guys are meant to be cheap both in terms of hardware and processing so that they are usable in all different types of conditions. For example, let’s say we thought, “wouldn’t it be easier if, as soon as one robot found the payload, it could communicate its position to the others?” This sharing of information would require an antenna on each of the bots capable of communicating a directional signal. The robots would then have to navigate to the specific point communicated, and their range would be limited by the antenna. These extra steps actually make the system more complicated than if the robots searched independently.

Be careful where you step as you walk around the CEID; the team hopes to have their first official prototype by the end of next week!

Musical Instruments Workshop

If you were in the CEID Wednesday the 12th, you are well aware the first ever Musical Instruments Workshop was a huge success! By the end of the two hours, the workshop participants were serenading CEIDers with their new acrylic flutes.


Hanoi Hantrakul (’15) and Dr. Larry Wilen have been working for months to design a workshop which teaches the basic physics of acoustics and allows participants to create their own recorder-like flutes on the laser cutter and in the machine shop.

Did you know the laser cutter can cut and engrave circular objects? The CEID laser cutter has a rotary stage meant to engrave pieces like vases and mugs. Larry and Hanoi created a special device to hold the tube which would become a flute into place. The rotary function allowed students to create a design on CorelDRAW which was then engraved on the flute. The workshop also took advantage of the mill using a CNC program to cut holes in the tube. The wooden mouthpeices were carved using files and then inserted into the tube, completing the flute.


Soon after the flutes were finished, the CEID was filled with the tunes of Merry Had a Little Lamb, Do- Re –Mi, and more.

CEID Musical Instruments Workshop from Yale CEID on Vimeo.


MFA Photoboxes

Each year the photography MFA class receives a thesis book comprised of their work. Each year, one graphic design MFA student is selected to design this book; however, as photography students’ projects have shifted towards installations and pieces that integrate photography in different ways, the book has changed as well.


Joao Doria is a graphic design MFA student from Brazil who likes the way his discipline combines problem solving and artistic work. Doria has been selected to create the “book,” which will take the form of a box, to hold the works of the photography MFA students this year. The projects include designs on cloth and sets of instructions for making a piece. Doria makes the box out of one continuous piece of 2D cardboard, taking advantage of the etch function of the laser cutter to create folds. Once the three dimensional shape of the box is finalized, Doria will create a design for its outside.

Yale Undergraduate Rover Association

If you have been in the CEID lately you are bound to have seen a wooden contraption with six legs and a boxy frame. The insect-like vehicle is a prototype for a rover conceived and built by the Yale Undergraduate Rover Association (YURA).

Last May, Brian Clark (’16) saw an article about college students building a Mars rover to compete in Utah at the University Rover Challenge. Since then, he has been working with Ashton Wackym (’16) to form an organization with the goal of building a rover to represent Yale at this competition. Their efforts materialized as YURA. Students with backgrounds in subjects ranging from engineering to political science have teamed up to approach the multifaceted challenges posed in the competition rules.


The University Rover Challenge puts a fifty kilogram limit on the vehicle and poses design challenges including terrain traversal, astronaut assistance, soil sampling to test for life, and equipment servicing. YURA’s rover is based loosely on current Mars rover designs and uses Rocker-Bogie suspension to passively react to the ground. Pat Wilczynski (’16) has designed a robotic arm with five degrees of freedom, and they will soon be laser cutting its parts. At the end of the arm will be a hand designed at Yale’s very own Grab Lab. The parts for this hand were printed on the Dimension just this past Tuesday.

Look out for YURA in the CEID this week as they begin fabricating their competition rover!


SWE Kickoff Event

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) held its spring term kick-off event this Tuesday night in the CEID. The group began the event with a clip of a TED talk by Debbie Sterling, founder and CEO of GoldieBlox, an engineering toy geared towards girls. The talk was followed by an exercise in which participants filled in the letters S, W, and E, the group’s acronym, with Stereotypes of women engineers, how they see themselves as Women, and how they see themselves as Engineers in the future. Debbie Sterling of GoldieBlox hopes to attack the problem of these stereotypes by creating a world where women fit in as engineers. By combining reading with a construction toy, she aims to encourage the development of spatial skills boys often get from toys like Legos or Lincoln Logs.

In addition to pizza and Insomnia cookies the event featured a panel of upperclassmen from each of the engineering disciplines. These students answered questions about their experiences at Yale and plans for after college. SWE is a national organization which was brought to Yale a few years ago by Brigid Blaksee ’13 and is now headed up by Gabriella Heifetz ’16 and Nimisha Ginesh ’15. “Everone who is a female engineers should be a part of SWE,” says Nimisha. The group’s main goal is to create a community and support system for women engineers at Yale andbeyond.

The group went to the national SWE conference in October of last year and plans to attend the regional conference in April as well. In the future SWE will be hosting faculty dinners and hopes to start up a big sib program with grad students. To get involved with SWE or simply join the panlist, email


Engineering and Music: Lamtharn Hantrakul '15

Lamtharn Hantrakul ‘15, known by his friends as Hanoi, came to Yale with two separate passions: music and physics. He composed and played piano in his music sphere, and became interested in nanoparticles on the physics side of things. When John Chowning gave a guest lecture in one of Hanoi’s classes about his work in the intersection of music and physics sophomore year, Hanoi was hooked.

Hanoi began learning how to use arduinos, power tools, and anything he could use to make devices that would allow him to explore the STEM fields while interacting with music, especially electronic music. He had DJed in the past and decided to make a MIDI controller meant to help him interact with the music software. The controller, shaped like a hemisphere, uses arcade buttons and an arduino to convey musical messages. The original shape allowed the buttons to be compact and the hand placement more natural.


“When you apply the technology in the right way it makes the interaction with the sound [and] the music more intuitive,” Hanoi says. This concept is reflected in a series of his projects which use a LEAP Motion controller to sense the motion of the hands and regulate what comes out of the speakers. He uses his left hand to control volume and the sound’s origin in the hemispherical speaker of his own design. Meanwhile, his right hand mixes the beats using a granular synthesizer which responds to finger motion.

In a similar project, Hanoi uses the LEAP Motion controller and RGB LEDs to make dubstep music accompanied by a light display. Friends have tried this setup and caught on quickly, where as if they had been in front of a computer, they would not have known what to do.

Hanoi noted that the CEID made all of his projects possible. On one level, most of his electronics and the tools he uses come from the CEID, but it is also a goal of the CEID to cross disciplines in the way he is doing. Hanoi says that this multidisciplinary approach allows for a product that is “larger than the sum of its parts.”


In the future, Hanoi hopes to apply intuitive computer interaction to dive into the medical world, helping patients with disabilities make music they might not normally be able to.

Look out for an upcoming CEID workshop developed by Hanoi and Dr. Larry Wilen on making a flute using the laser cutter, LEDs, and more!

For more on Hanoi’s exciting projects check out his website:


IGVC and the Autonomous Segway

The CEID is buzzing with students again after a quieter winter break. Among the groups who have gathered to engineer, innovate, and design are five sophomores: Kevin Abbott, Jason Brooks, Alex Carrillo, Pranay Maddi, and Phil Piper. The team of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and computer science majors is building a fully autonomous vehicle to compete in the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition this June. The vehicle must navigate an obstacle course on a grassy field, staying within white painted lines and navigating to GPS waypoints autonomously.


The group is modifying a Segway Robotic Mobility Platform (RMP) donated by Dr. John Morrel to create a three-wheeled vehicle configured a bit like a tricycle. The third wheel will be added to the Segway’s platform which they will rotate ninety degrees. The team uses an extremely accurate GPS with half-meter resolution to travel to the appropriate locations in the obstacle course and two laser range finders to reflect light off objects and see surroundings. A camera points at hyperbolic mirror facing the grass to image the ground around the vehicle and help it stay within the lines of the obstacle course.


Currently, the team is making mechanical structure and working on algorithms. Later they will test their modified Segway at a mock up of the field. The group expressed appreciation to Yale SEAS, the US Military Acedemy, the Yale Computer Science Department, and Novatel for their support of the project.

MENG404 Class Projects

MENG404 (Medical Device Design and Innovation) is one of the courses being taught primarily in the CEID during the Fall semester. The course pairs physician mentors from the Yale School of Medicine with student teams to prototype innovative solutions to the problems posed by the physicians. This year, there were four student teams tackling various challenging problems. Each team was made up of five students from backgrounds such as Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, School of Management, and School of Public Health. They presented their prototypes in the CEID at the end of the semester to a packed lecture hall. This year’s teams are listed below:

Portable Epileptic Seizure Recording Device – Tammer Abiyu (Physics), Jason Allmaras (ME), Levi DeLuke (ME), Lauren Gardanier (BME), Rebecca Rabison (SOM)


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Novel Surgical Tool for ENT Procedures - Charlotte Guertler (ME), Stephen Hall (ME), Rahul Kini (ChemE), Dan Rathbone (ME), Randy Duchesnaeu (MPH)



Small Bowel Perfusion and Transportation System - Andrew Crouch (BME), Brian Loeb (ME), Raja Narayan (MPH), Kristi Oki (ME), Natalie Pancer (BME)



Drug Delivery System for Pediatric Hemophilia Patients – Paul Napolitano (ME), Sarah Greenwalt (SOM), Kenta Koga (CS), Sonya Prasad (Env. Studies), Martin Shapiro (ME)

Team D


The projects were featured in a New Haven Register article here:

For more information about the projects or the course, contact joseph.zinter[at]


Bulldog Bots

Among the many groups which call the CEID home is Bulldog Bots, an organization with a focus on the design and construction of robots. Since starting off the year with workshops ranging from making nightlights to music cubes, the team has selected a number of projects to complete. Members recently began ordering parts for this year’s three robots: the SumoBot, the Micromouse, and an RC combat bot. The SumoBot and RC combat bot will fight in sumo wrestles and robot brawls at a competition in Illinois this April, and the Micromouse will navigate its way through a maze at the Brown IEEE competition in April.


Bulldog Bots is small compared to other engineering organizations, which allows the team members to get plenty of hands on experience and understand all components of the project they are working on. “Robotics is all about integration,” says Sam Samuelson (‘14).

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Founder Jack Rockaway (‘14) observed that “robotics is the overlap of mechanical and electrical engineering.” Bulldog Bots helps members apply this field and the design process to real life.

Make sure to keep a look out in the CEID for this group as they construct their robots over the course of the year!

Engine Teardowns!

This past Wednesday night was the first Engine Workshop. Hosted by CEID aide, Riley Rice (‘15), the eagerly anticipated event was a wonderful example of how the CEID facilitates students teaching each other. Riley began the workshop with a presentation full of pictures and animations explaining how engines work and the parts of which they are composed. After the presentation, the participants got a chance to get their hands dirty and work with real engines!


Using tools like wrenches and ratchets, attendees took the engines apart piece by piece in pairs. Riley explained each component as it came off the engine. After the engines were disassembled, of course they needed to be put back together, allowing for another chance to see how everything fit together. Chris Datsikas (‘16) shared that the opportunity to physically interact with the engines gave him a more complete understanding of how the engine worked.



YUAA Prototype Rocket Launch

The Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Organization’s (YUAA) Rocket Competition Team has spent the past week finishing their seven foot prototype rocket, Artemis, in the CEID. Artemis will fly to 6000 feet using a K570 solid fuel motor at the CTRA launch in upstate New York. Among other things, Artemis is meant to test the payload deployment system for the rocket which will fly at a competition early in the summer. This prototype will carry a GoPro which will take footage of its descent.


The team has been preparing for this process throughout the term by constructing rockets on RockSim, practicing carbon fiber layups, and building small test rockets. Many of the members joined the team with no engineering experience, but since have designed and built Artemis’s body and electrical components. The airframe is composed of cardboard tubes which have been reinforced by a Easyglas sock and epoxy, and the fins and other parts were laser cut in the CEID.


Bolun Lui ‘16, the leader of the team, expressed that they are extremely grateful for the CEID. Not only does it offer valuable resources such as the laser cutter, but it also provides an invaluable meeting space. The CEID allows YUAA, an organization of almost fifty people, to be a cohesive community of friends and aerospace enthusiasts.


Read more about YUAA here:

UCS + CEID Career Networking Nights

Monday October 7th through Wednesday October 9th, the CEID collaborated with Undergraduate Career Services to host three career events. Advertised as UCS Networking Nights, the events allowed students to talk to representatives from companies and organizations in the STEM industries. Each of the three nights was geared towards a specific field.

Software and computer science companies including Google, Microsoft, and Dropbox came on the first night. The second night, meant for mechanical and chemical engineers saw companies ranging from yet2, a group which connects technologies to funding and marketing opportunities, to Alcoa, the world’s third largest producer of aluminum. Companies like Pfizer were present at the final night for biomedical engineers. Representatives were eager to share about the work their organizations do. The events were a wonderful networking opportunity for students and companies alike, and offered students perspective on science and engineering outside of the classroom.

Over 400 students attended the career events over the course of the three days



Halloween Study Break!

On October 30th the CEID filled with students eager to make Halloween costumes. The CEID staff were prepared and had stocked up on thread, fabric, wood, and countless other supplies. Many people were drawn to the study break by the promise of candy and snacks, and when they saw all of the supplies, they decided to stick around to make a costume as well.


As soon as Rachel Lawrence ‘16 discovered the pile of red cloth, she knew she had to make a cape. She decided to be Thor and, in addition to the cape, made gauntlets, wings for a helmet, and of course, a hammer. Stephen Hall ‘14 constructed a full body Buzz Lightyear suit out of paper and poster board and Ellen Su, a CEID Design Fellow, laser cut herself a MakerBot costume!


The sewing machine was worked harder than ever before with projects ranging from vests to pumpkin costumes to rip off jeans. The festivities did not end that night either, though the candy disappeared; Nicole De Santis ‘15 was busy sewing her candy corn costume the next morning.


The study break provided a chance for students to utilize the CEID’s resources to their fullest in a creative and different way.

Drosophila Collector

The Drosophila melanogaster, known to most as the fruit fly, has been used in research for over a hundred years to study genetics. Scientists introduce mutations paired with physical markers, such as wing shape and eye color, into the flies. The researchers then breed the flies and use the markers to see how the mutations, or alleles, get passed from generation to generation. The flies are bred in containers where they are fed with a sweet and sticky concoction. To control the breeding of the next generation, the new flies must be separated within six hours of hatching. Typically, the need for separation implies that the flies must be checked every six hours, a process which can become quite tedious.

Nils Neuenkirchen, who does research with the fruit flies at the medical school, has designed and created a container which allows for the individual storage of the flies, making the process more efficient. Individual test tubes are costly, but his reusable container allows him to easily and cheaply keep nineteen flies in a space the size of a petri dish. The container, which he calls the “Virgin Collector,” has sixfold symmetry and was constructed out of acrylic using the laser cutter in the CEID. In use, the acrylic piece is pushed up against a petri dish full of food and covered with a mesh membrane which constrains the flies but allows them to breath. Nils is currently training to use the metal shop so that he can make clips to close the device’s lid.


Nils switched to this field from biochemistry this past January and pointed out that coming from a different background allowed him to approach the situation with a new perspective. Many people in the field use the old technique because it functions and they are used to it. Though the container seems simple, it saves huge amounts of time.

Many of the diseases that occur in humans can be modeled with these flies, and because the flies have only four pairs of chromosomes instead of humans’ twenty-three, they are much easier to study. In a time where funding for research is sparse, Nils’ project finds an innovative way to improve the efficiency of this significant research.


CEID & The Introduction to Architecture

Members of the introduction to architecture class flooded the CEID this week to work on their first model. The assignment was to create a space using ten four by six planes, five identical columns, and pediments. The designs ranged from meditative spaces to “a nice place to have a barbeque.”

The class brought students outside of the STEM to the CEID such as Mary Nguyen (‘14), a political science major, and Lucia Herrmann (‘16), an architecture major. Mary called Introduction to Architecture her “fun class” though she admitted that it was definitely intense. Lucia, an architecture major, used her planes to create a garden around a river. She laser cut the pieces and then bent them so that they were “as fluid as the river.”


The class has learned to use sketches to plan out the their designs, but many have developed their own design techniques as well. Katie Colford (‘16) is an architecture major who has also dabbled in physics, math, and philosophy. She designed her space based on the experience she wanted to convey. Her meditative space involves triangular graduated stairs to allow for an outside space which is separated from the ground. Ari Brill (‘15) started by making the components out of index cards to visualize possible designs. Ari, an intensive physics major, is working on the barbeque design. He decided to take the class to learn about “how spaces interplay to shape the environments in which people live.”


The specific assigned components have taken on so many forms that it is easy to see the diversity of the class and the diversity of the type of person you might meet at the CEID.


MENG 489 Class Projects

The students enrolled Mechanical Design: Process and Implementation (MENG 489) have taken on the challenge of designing, prototyping, and producing a number of engineering projects. The class, taught primarily by Dean Wilczynski in the CEID, focuses on the study of the design process from beginning to end.  The projects began as a list of suggestions, added to by the students themselves. The projects chosen range from UAVs to an Ice Core Analysis machine to a scale meant for use in space. At this point, having chosen a project and rough design, the teams are prototyping and modeling. Some of the students in each group took the time to share the details of their projects and their experiences thus far.

The UAV project was suggested by students in the class with the goal of participating in the ASME Lighter than Air UAV Competition in April. The competition requires a radio controlled and battery powered UAV that can navigate through a series of gates, drop a payload on a target, and return to its original position. The suggestion was so popular that two teams formed.

Team Blue: UAV One

The UAV One project is one of the two groups having the initial goal of competing in the ASME competition. Their design process began with a look at constraints, such as anded for a battery, and objectives that define the performance of the UAV. The design, a multicopter, was chosen because it best fit the objectives and constraints the team discussed.  A multicopter has a high maneuverability and can carry a large amount of weight compared to their original choice, a blimp, which would have been able to blue for longer.

The group is now prototyping the components of the UAV and building them separately. Some parts have been ordered, but that competition requires the UAV be of the team’s design. Many of the parts will be produced from raw materials in the CEID. Jan Kolmas (’14), a member of the team, thought that they would be “likely to use every single aspect of the CEID in this project.”

Team Orange – UAV Alpha

UAV Alpha is also working on a project for the ASME competition. Jason Allmaras (’14), a member of the team, said that the competition restriction to a 28” diameter poses a “unique set of design considerations.” In order to stay on schedule and best utilize the specific skills of each member the team split the design up into subsystems to be designed by subgroups.

Currently the team is considering the benefits of a modified helicopter style craft or quadcopter. In the next week the group hopes to collect data to determine the best solution using a test stand of their own design. Prototyping, much of which will occur in the CEID, should be finished by the end of October.

The team expects to use the electronics workstation quite frequently in the implementation of the design. The lightweight plastic from the 3D printers is another resource which will be useful in creating a successful craft.

The long-term goal is for the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace association (YUAA) to fly the UAV at the competition in the fall of 2014.

Team Red – Ice-Core Analysis

A third team is designing an Ice Core Analysis machine which will determine the grain orientation of the crystals and shine light on past climate changes. The grain orientation of the ice can be used to help understand the flow history of the ice. The device will use polarizers and cameras to analyze a chunk of ice.

Current methods for this type of analysis are on the expensive size and not terribly portable. The group hopes to address these two issues and make the images better resolution and in color. The new design will involve two cameras in order to reduce the stages of movement of the analysis. The device must function from at temperature ranging from -25 to -40 degrees Celsius so the team not only has to make sure the device works at this temperature, but also has to consider the feasibility of being able to use small controls wearing bulky gloves and clothing. They hope to have the process be completely automated.

The team also researched ice core research itself and how the images would be used to optimize the design. The project is based off of improving a machine in Dr. Wilen’s lab, so the team has also been able to look into compatibility and understand first hand the design challenge.

Levi DeLuke (’16) has found the device was not easy to visualize which made the design process more difficult. They have used K’NEX to help with the visualization and are now moving into SolidWorks.  The team anticipates using the CEID to machine the aluminum frame and most of the mechanical parts of the device. If they can find parts that work within their temperature constraints the team would like to purchase parts to keep the cheap and reproducible goal of the project in mind.

Team Green – Space Scale

The final group is designing a microgravity object scale with will be able to determine the mass of an object in space. The design is focusing of objects with masses between one and five kilograms, as NASA does not currently have a way of massing objects in this range. They have a way of massing astronauts and are developing a system for taking the mass of very small objects less than one kilogram, but lack a system for masses in between.

Typically scales use gravity to function. The team’s design mimics the effects of gravity by creating an acceleration which allows for the measurement of the object’s mass from the resultant force. Their design uses an oscillating system and employ a load cell to measure the force. They will be ordering a stepper motor to drive these oscillations, and many of the other parts of the body of the device will be composed of lightweight metals or composite materials. Charlotte Guertler (’14) noted that the team hopes to achieve an accuracy of 10% and a precision of 0.2 kg as quickly as possible while keeping the weight and volume of the system to a minimum.

Matthew O’Donoghue (’14) has found the design process to be exciting so far. Matthew has learned “everything from developing a weighted decision matrix to how astronauts get weighed in space to how to use Microsoft Project.” In the design process the team encountered the challenge of going from an abstract idea to a concrete plan with specific parts which fit together.

They hold all of their meetings in the CEID and have used the available materials so far to visualize the devices size and understand constraints. “The CEID has been our Mission Control… This transition from the abstract to the concrete is exactly the creativity the CEID fosters,” Matthew says.

The team hopes to see their scale on future space missions.


Bubbles! Workshop

This past Wednesday evening the CEID classroom filled with people young and old with one interest in common: bubbles. Dr. Larry Wilen used bubbles to illuminate topics such as the science of grain boundaries and the math of shortest distance problems.


Participants learned that the hydrophobic and hydrophilic parts of soaps, or surfactants, help them to form films when mixed with water. Like many other physical phenomenon, the bubbles want to be in the lowest energy state possible. Due to the surface tension, which is related to the energy of the film, the preferred state of the bubble is when it has the lowest possible surface area.


Dr. Wilen used the bubble’s desire to minimize surface area to demonstrate the easiest way to connect points in configurations ranging from a spherical tube to a map of cities in the United States. Participants found that different initial conditions can lead to various shortest paths. The obvious shortest path for a cylinder is a straight line, but when the cylinder was dipped the just right way into the soap solution, a spiral resulted. Dr. Wilen challenged the audience to make a spiral that wrapped around two or three times.


At the end of the talk, Hanoi Hantrakul, an undergraduate physics major, shared his technique for making enormous bubbles with only his hands, shampoo, and water. After covering his hands in shampoo mixed with water, he blew into the fingers on one hand while holding the bubble with his other.


After the demonstrations, the people attending the talk got to experiment with the bubbles themselves. Dr. Wilen shared his various bubble making tools with the participants while Hanoi shared his method for two people working together to blow the bubble. Everyone left the talk soapy and smiling.


Bamboo & Carbon Fiber Bike

Josh Chang, Saybrook class of 2017, recently finished a second bamboo frame for the bike he made himself. The first frame, made for mountain biking, has held up for around 1,000 miles. Josh made the second frame in anticipation of road riding before coming to Yale. “Why bamboo?” you may ask. “The benefit of bamboo is exceptional ride quality.” Josh said. He in fact did a research report on it in high school and concluded that the properties of the material allow for a smooth and comfortable ride, but when the rider pedals hard the bike is sufficiently stiff. 2Josh found the idea on the Internet before he even started cycling, but did not start construction until the summer before his junior year of high school. He started by researching and assessing the possible success of the project and then moved on to buying carbon fiber, epoxy resin, and some metal pieces. 3The building process started sometime in the fall or winter of that same year and lasted until December. “Everything was done by hand,” Josh said, “from the sanding to the cutting to mitering.” He even heat-treated the bamboo in his own oven. The finishing touches included a coat of polyurethane and green glitter. The second frame was made using help fiber as opposed to carbon to see how the natural fibers perform comparatively. Josh looks forward to using the resources at Yale to do more projects like this one, and would appreciate any support for future research and testing.

4The basis for the original design is the Niner Air 9 Carbon, a fancy mountain bike made of carbon fiber. Josh’s frame has the same geometry. To see the original instructions which inspired Josh to make his bike follow this link: -Blogpost by Genevieve Fowler


Workshops & Orientations

Workshops and trainings for CEID equipment will begin on the week of September 2nd and will be available on ClassesV2 for signup beginning Friday August 30th! In the meantime here is what we have scheduled:

Tue 8/27 4-5pm
Wed 8/28 4-5pm
Thurs 8/29 4-5pm
Fri 8/30 4-5pm

Check the CEID Calendar for information on next weeks training and events.


Welcome to our new website!

Hello! Welcome to the newest update to our website! This area will contain all-sorts of content ranging from event pictures to random cool projects taking place in the CEID on a daily basis. Come check this place out and get excited for Fall 2013!