Zoe Berg, Senior Photographer

Bulldog Repbox, a new company designed by Yale students to improve the way athletes track their workouts, received its first large-scale shipment of 500 units in the first week of November and is planning its official launch for early next semester.

The product is intended to help coaches by making sure that athletes maintain the proper posture when squatting and doing similar exercises. The original prototype — then called Squatbox — was built in “Introduction to Engineering, Innovation, and Design,” a class where students do projects for clients around the University.  

“One of the clients was the strength coach for physical conditioning, Thomas Newman, and he introduced us to the problem, where the coach has to identify every time that you’re doing a proper squat,“ Vincent Wilczynski, deputy dean of the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science and the director of the Yale Center for Engineering Innovation & Design, told the News.  

With this problem in mind, a group of students designed a sensor that would detect correct posture. The initial project was promising, and so after the initial group of students in the first, Wilczynski had another group improve it in the next class. 

“It seemed to be worthwhile, so we 3D-printed about 50 of them here at the CEID and through the coach sent them out to his associates,” Wilczynski, who co-teaches the course, told the News. 

The group sent boxes to the Massachusetts State Police Academy, the Boston Red Sox,  the Boise State football team and the University of Kentucky strength coach for beta testing. Encouraged by a successful initial run and after incorporating some feedback, Wilczynski decided to reach out to a Yale and CEID alum, Gordon McCambridge ’16. McCambridge’s company Pivot does small-scale sourcing, design, fabrication, assembly and testing. Another group of students worked with Pivot to design the final version of the product using injection molding and finally shipped out the initial 500-unit run, which arrived in the first week of November. 

So far, the project has been mostly focused primarily on engineering and product design, but now with the launch, the group is planning to ramp up business outreach and sales.

Wilczynski added that they are planning to reach out to previous beta testers to see if they would support the final version, and if the initial run sells well, they plan to ramp up production to runs of 1,000, 2,500 units or more. 

The project of Bulldog Repbox itself is the flagship project of Projects2Products, an initiative launched by Wilczynski to promote engineering innovation at the CEID. Its launch also represents part of the push at Yale towards more support of entrepreneurship.  

“This is an important component of the school’s strategic vision to create programs creating support for students to learn how to be entrepreneurs. It gives students hands-on training in the industrial design aspects in manufacturing,” Dean Wilczynski told the News.

Anthony Belanger, the director of sports performance and student athlete innovation at Yale Athletics, says that he’s been very impressed with the Repbox so far, having used it with a few of his athletes. 

He explained that the group might encounter some difficulties because the strength and conditioning field can be a bit skeptical of new products. 

“It’s absolutely something that can be a success if it has the right energy put into it,” Belanger said. “There’s always a lot of skepticism because so much of athletics is based on results in production. Sometimes there’s a little bit of uncertainty until people see the benefits from it.” 

The current head of the student team, Urszula Solarz ‘25, explained that the group is looking to build out their Yale relationships and then expand to more regional gyms. 

“We’re barely in the top 10 schools for the amount of startups that we that we launched, or the amount of money we raise, but we have to realize that we can define a specific Yale type of entrepreneur who’s ready for the creativity of the 21st century and [doesn’t] just follow convention and really [brings] that interdisciplinary, very thoughtful nature that Yalies have from our liberal arts curriculum,” Ula said. 

She also said that Yale has been very supportive but suggested that the University do more to provide students on the periphery of computer science and engineering with the tools they need to launch their own projects.

LUKAS NEL