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!