Though open to the Yale community since Aug. 26, the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design in the Becton Center held an official dedication ceremony Thursday afternoon.
Hundreds of Yale students, faculty and alumni gathered for the ribbon cutting in the CEID, located on 15 Prospect St. The ceremony opened with a keynote from Boeing CEO Jim McNerney ’71 — who praised the center for embodying the intersection of the sciences and the humanities — and the unveiling of the Becton café name: “Ground.” President-elect Peter Salovey told the audience that the center’s opening has generated as much “buzz” as any he can remember over his 32 years at Yale.
“This is just one of those great dreams, I think, for many of us who have been at Yale for a long time, always hoping that we could have something like this at Yale that would be so inspirational for our students,” he said.
In his speech, Salovey said the center helps advance his vision for a Yale that is more unified, excellent, accessible and innovative. Both Salovey and Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences T. Kyle Vanderlick highlighted that the center allows SEAS to realize its vision of bridging the sciences and the humanities. The center, which features a wet lab, machine shop and woodshop, counts 695 registered members — including roughly 116 undergraduates not majoring in STEM fields and about 75 students from the School of Management — among its ranks.
Salovey added that for many students, the coffee and LED panel at the adjacent café help bridge the gap between Science Hill and Yale’s central campus.
“As they walk up Science Hill, a walk that Yalies for generations disliked intensely, they don’t dislike it so much anymore,” he said.
The name of the café, originally submitted as “Ground Wire,” was one of more than 100 entries in a naming contest that ran from Jan. 14–25, Vanderlick said. In engineering, the term “ground” refers to a bottomless pit capable of accepting unlimited amounts of electrical charge, School of Engineering Deputy Dean Vincent Wilczynski said in a Thursday email.
CEID Director and professor of mechanical engineering Eric Dufresne ’96 said he sees the center as a community for innovation and design similar to that of a residential college.
While the CEID hosts a handful of engineering classes, Dufresne said the center has been used frequently as a hub of extracurricular activity. HackYale, the immensely popular student-taught course on basic computer skills, meets in the CEID on Tuesday evenings. Students, too, have gathered to teach seminars on everything from operating the 3-D printers to the craft and science of knitting.
Adam Goone ’13 said he was happy the speeches acknowledged the social value of the CEID, as previously engineers lacked a place to gather on campus.
“Yale is really trying to invest in STEM,” Joshua Ruck ’13 said. “I think this is a great step to bring it on par with other universities.”
Following the dedication ceremony, donors were invited to a “secret” concert in Sprague Memorial Hall honoring outgoing University President Richard Levin, according to a CEID press release.