Approximately 80 members of the Yale community convened at Sudler Hall on March 2 for Aeronautica, the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association’s annual showcase event.
In its fifth iteration, Aeronautica featured four undergraduate projects: a hybrid rocket project, a turbojet engine project, a high-altitude project and a cube satellite project. YUAA is a student organization that aims to promote aerospace engineering through workshops and outreach, particularly given that Yale does not offer aerospace engineering as a major, explained Co-President Scott Smith ’18.
“Aeronautica is a way for us to present all the work we’ve been doing to the Yale community and people beyond,” said Pratik Gandhi ’18, the director of development for YUAA. “We also get a chance to talk about and present how the organization has evolved and changed over the years and what kinds of successes we’ve had.”
Aeronautica, the “brainchild” of Israel Kositsky ’13, according to Gandhi, began with a keynote address from previous co-presidents, Devin Cody ’17 and Gerardo Carranza ’17, followed by a viewing of this year’s four featured projects.
Cody and Carranza spoke about the growth of YUAA, past and present projects, and its recent success in the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition, an international engineering competition in Utah, this past July.
While projects in previous years were based in part on prior ones, Evan Haas ’19 said this year’s projects represented “new ground” for the organization, adding that this type of work is not very common at other universities.
“[Aeronautica] highlighted a lot of the hard work that leaders and their teammates put into their projects,” said Christina Huang ’19, a member of YUAA’s executive board. Huang added that Aeronautica represented an opportunity for project members to interact with those from other project teams and see the diversity of their work.
Haas’ project — the hybrid rocket, which is a more advanced type of rocket that combines solid fuel with a liquid oxidant, allowing for thrust control and in-flight re-ignition — was among the four featured projects. To build this new type of rocket, which can be throttled and is theoretically more efficient, Haas worked with a dozen active members on the rocket.
Gandhi added that Haas’s project represented YUAA’s first attempt at building a hybrid rocket, marking not only an advancement in the group’s rocket technology but also a paradigm shift. According to Haas, projects were chosen from an annual organization-wide brainstorming session.
In addition to students, Dean of Yale College Jonathan Holloway, Dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science T. Kyle Vanderlick and Deputy Dean of SEAS Vincent Wilczynski attended the event. Smith added that the group also invited representatives from the engineering industry.
“Each year we do different projects, as well as have new leadership and members,” said Haas. “We traced the growth of the organization every year and every year it’s bigger … It’s cool to show the growth of the organization both in membership and skill level.”
YUAA was first established in 2011 by a group of friends who were interested in aerospace and aerospace engineering but noted a gap in Yale’s offerings in the field. Gandhi said that over the years, the group has become well integrated into SEAS and that although the group is student run, it receives a lot of support from SEAS. He added that SEAS had recognized YUAA’s ability to fill a need left by the Bluebook, and praised the attendance of the School’s deans at the event.
Smith said that a goal of Aeronautica is to showcase the work of members of Yale’s engineering departments.
This academic year, 65 students are part of YUAA.