This year, a new organization seeks to bring together students to work on creative projects in a relaxed, low-pressure environment.
Founded by Cameron Yick ’17, YaleMakes held its first meeting in the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design (CEID) on Saturday. The idea for the club grew out of Yick’s involvement with the Calhoun Happiness Project, a group of Calhoun students who began meeting monthly last year to discuss chapters of Gretchen Rubin’s book about positive psychology, “The Happiness Project.” Yick said he hopes YaleMakes extends the Happiness Project’s mission of promoting happiness and creativity among members of the Yale community.
“I’d like to establish a community of people who wouldn’t otherwise be meeting regularly to just be creative around each other and have fun in doing so,” Yick said. “Ideally, a really cool idea comes out of it, but that’s not the point. That can never be the point. If that’s the point then there’s pressure and whatnot.”
At Saturday’s meeting, around 12 students met in the CEID to discuss potential projects for the semester. Proposals ranged from tactile poetry to user interface work on mobile devices. The group also worked on designing a logo for YaleMakes.
In the CEID, which opened in September 2012, students can work on projects like woodworking and graphic design with the help of resources such as 3-D printers and the CEID metal shop.
Yick, an aspiring electrical engineering major, said he believes aesthetics are an important but often undervalued component of his area of study. When he realized that he was not getting the sort of design experience he was looking for from a class, he decided to create YaleMakes.
The class of 2018 also played a role in the founding of the club.
Over the summer, Yick built a website for the freshman class that included a page where students could describe projects they were interested in working on at Yale.
“I was looking at the interests of the freshmen who entered the talent database that I built, and it seemed like there were a fair amount of people that were interested in doing design, but not necessarily for competition or for a business,” he said.
Yick also spoke about how the club would encourage more collaboration between STEM and arts people, all of whom are interested in designing things effectively.
Megan Valentine ’16, who attended the first meeting on Saturday, echoed this sentiment, citing her interdepartmental major — computing and the arts — as an example of the importance of a collaborative effort between aesthetics and engineering.
Another key aspect of the club is its laid-back, positive environment.
“Making things makes a lot of people happy,” Yick said.
Artem Osherov ’17, a suite mate of Yick’s who also attended the first meeting, said he hopes YaleMakes will provide a set meeting time for people to come together and express their creativity. He added that members are also under no pressure to commit to coming to meetings every week.
Calvin Harrison ’17, a founding member of the Calhoun Happiness Project who is not involved in YaleMakes, said he thinks the idea of YaleMakes is really interesting and has the potential to open up design as a hobby to many people.
“That being said, I feel like so much of Yale is about being awesome at everything you do, so I worry that this pursuit of [creative flow] could turn into a counterproductive search for perfection,” Harrison said.
YaleMakes meets every Saturday morning in the CEID from 10 p.m. to 12 p.m.