Deciding to kick off their next meeting with a Yalie version of Junkyard Wars, the Yale Engineering Design Team gathered for its first organizing session on Monday.
Around 30 students — a bigger turnout than expected, perhaps due to the rumor that the club was attempting to secure project funding from the Department of Defense — planning to study everything from medicine to biochemical engineering, assembled in a classroom in William L. Harkness Hall to discuss ideas for future projects.
“We want to do things that everyone is interested in, no matter what engineering field they are involved in,” Daniel Wiznia ’06, one of the group’s founders, said.
Wiznia and James Salzano ’06 crafted the idea for the team when they were working together as lab partners and wanted to do something with their common love for engineering outside of class. Jerry Morones ’06 was also one of the early founders.
“We thought it would be fun to work in the lab without doing all the grunt work that goes with it,” Salzano said.
The team has developed project ideas that include unmanned submarines, automated pet walkers, motorized shopping carts and unmanned flying aircrafts. Additionally, they said they would like to break some of Guinness’s World records in categories that focus on engineering design and create projects that would help the community.
“It is a way for us to go out in the city and help people with disabilities,” Wiznia said.
Both Salzano and Wiznia said that without the support of the faculty, the project would not have gotten off of its feet. Professor David LaVanne has agreed to be their faculty advisor.
“They have a vision for what they would like to do, and we are trying to support and help them develop that,” LaVanne said.
The team also plans to recruit Yale engineering professors to give group members tutorials. Many professors have already expressed an interest in getting involved, Wiznia said.
“The students wanted to expand the “hands-on” aspect of the engineering desiring curriculum,” LaVanne said.
LaVanne refused to comment on whether the team was attempting to secure funding from the Department of Defense.
“I don’t want to make any statement about possible sources of donations until we have a commitment,” he said.
The Department of Defense has funded student projects in the past in the attempt to improve the engineering curriculum across the country, the Department of Defense’s Web site said.
The other major engineering club currently on campus is Team Lux, which is dedicated to building a solar car. They hope their car, “John Lee,” will race in the inaugural Phaethon 2004 solar car race in Greece.
Team Lux President David Johnson ’04 said he was happy to see another engineering group on campus.
“We would be glad to offer them guidance and perhaps help them avoid fading away, as several past engineering design organizations have done,” Johnson said.
Yale Engineering Design Team members said they plan to focus on smaller projects instead of working to build just one car.
“The idea is to complement, not rival, Team Lux,” Lavanne said.
The group’s founders said interested students can contact them by e-mail.