Morse dining hall adorned with 9-foot neon axe
Jacob Eldred ’24, who created the Hopper dining hall’s trident, has now installed a neon sculpture of the Morse College’s coat of arms above the entrance to the dining hall.
Courtesy of Claire Chen
Morse College students can now enjoy dining hall food in the red glow of a 9-foot neon axe. Or rather, a 9-foot neon sign in the shape of an axe, the main feature on the Morse College coat of arms.
Mounted last spring above the dining hall’s entrance, the axe was created by Jacob Eldred ’24 with the help of Fred Kaplan, the neon-bender who runs Elm City Neon in Hamden, and Nick Bernardo, a machinist at the Yale SEAS machine shop in Mason Laboratory.
“The first week of first year, I pointed up at a giant space on the wall and said to my parents, ‘I want to make a 10-foot tall neon battle axe and put it there,’” Eldred said. “The idea stayed in the back of my head for a few years.”
The project was completed with support from Morse administrators, and materials were funded by the Creative and Performing Arts Award. Physical support for the installation involved Operations and Planning, Facilities, Environmental Health and Safety and other groups, according to Morse Head of College Catherine Panter-Brick.
The sign was mounted on the dining hall wall with the help of contractors hired by Yale. The structure holding the sign rigid was machined by Eldred in the SEAS machine shop, with the help of Bernardo.
“When the axe was finally and safely mounted on the dining hall wall, everything came to light!” Panter-Brick said. “Jacob’s work has impressed all of us in the Morse community.”
Morse first year Adham Hussein ’26 was originally surprised to hear that a student built the statue, but called the axe “a big point of pride” for those in Morse.
Hussein also mentioned how exciting it was that Yale allowed for such possibilities to explore hobbies and passions outside of academics. He added that the small size of Yale’s engineering department compared to others actually gave students more opportunities to pursue projects like this.
“When I found out it was made by a student as a project, I felt really inspired,” commented Hussein, “Especially since I also plan to go into mechanical engineering.”
Prior to constructing the axe, Eldred also made the trident displayed in the center of the Grace Hopper College dining hall. Eldred said a group of Hopper students devised the idea for the trident, inspired by Grace Hopper’s work as an US Navy rear admiral.
The trident was also constructed entirely in the SEAS machine shop with Bernardo’s help. Made out of brass, the statue is 6-feet tall and weighs over 80 pounds.
“I really enjoyed getting to do both the art and the engineering design because I could make everything fit together at every level,” said Eldred of the two projects. “The structure could work with the visual design and nothing was left out of place.”
Morse College is located at 304 York St.