YaleMakes, founded by Cameron Yick ‘17, is a new group on campus that connects the STEM, arts, and entrepreneurship communities. Through weekly workshops where people learn from one another, YaleMakes provides a creative, stress-free environment for students to share their passions.
YaleMakes stemmed from the Calhoun Happiness Project, a group organized around the application of principles from positive psychology. Started by Margarita Mooney from the Department of Sociology, the group meets to discuss wellbeing and themes from the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. This year, Mooney encouraged the group to go beyond talking about happiness and actually engage in activities that would promote happiness on campus. This inspired Cameron to start YaleMakes.
“I believe that if something is important you have to do it regularly,” Yick said. “With psets and classes, there’s a lot of stuff—be that painting, woodwork, coding for the fun of it—that is important to people that they can’t do every day. YaleMakes is a group for people that enjoy making things and learning about what other people like to make.”
The students in YaleMakes, united by their passion for making things, have a wide range of interests and come from interdisciplinary backgrounds. The group consists of students majoring in art, architecture, computing and the arts, and computer science and psychology, just to name a few. Students often take the theoretical concepts they’ve learned in the classroom and “cultivate the more applied aspects of those fields.”
“Design is the ultimate interdisciplinary field,” Yick said. “You want to make things that are effective at solving problems, aesthetic so that people use them correctly and/or have fun while using them, and compelling in that they fit into the narrative of how people live their lives.”
YaleMakes holds weekly workshops during which students or guest workshop leaders share their creative expertise. Sessions have focused on a wide range of themes such as data visualization and infographics, lettering and typography, and architectural sketching and perspective drawing.
Several workshops are already lined up for next semester, including sessions on 3D printed furniture and room design, woodcutting, and corporate logos and branding. YaleMakes also plans to collaborate with other student groups that promote happiness and wellbeing. They will be partnering with InspireYale on their spring Big Brush Workshop, a creative painting session.
Although YaleMakes’ workshops offer interested students the opportunity to create marketable products, Yick notes that YaleMakes isn’t trying to be a “startup ideas incubator,” and there is no special emphasis on creating designs or products with business objectives. The group is characterized by a “Zen undercurrent … about finding things by not looking for them,” Yick said.
Hands-on work is a critical component of the group’s sessions. “Even though nowadays we have 3D printing and laser cutting, there’s something very visceral about working with materials you can shape with your hands right away,” Yick said.
Yick hopes that YaleMakes bridges the gap between technology and the arts, gets more people involved in the maker community, and establishes a model for what a “maker” group might look like in other universities and high schools.
“You can learn some design principles from textbooks, but ultimately you learn to design by doing things,” Yick said. “YaleMakes helps people who are trying to learn design get the resources, accountability, and support from the community.”
The group currently meets once a week on Saturday mornings or afternoons with plans to run a second weekly session if there is enough interest. For more information, visit the YaleMakes website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.