urban_environmentGreetings from New Haven! It’s been a wild year here at DFA Yale: we’ve grown from five members to thirty, gotten five projects off the ground, and hosted a crazy-awesome weekend of DFA fun at the East Coast Meet-Up.

This fall, we were lucky enough to host fellow DFA rockstars from RISD/Brown, Cornell, Barnard/Columbia and Virginia Tech for the East Coast Meet-Up! Projects were shared, friendships were formed, and mockup-tionary was played for three straight days. It was an incredible experience to see this sprawling, abstract DFA network turn into a real, living community where we can share ideas and get to know each other. Every studio has a different take on the design process, and hearing it reinterpreted in the context of each school changed how many of us look at design.

In other news, we also have three new studio leads!

paul_singerMeet Paul Singer, all the way from Connecticut. Paul is our resident Econ major and clarinet-bro extraordinaire. We could write a whole separate post about Paul’s many talents, but suffice to say that squash is first and foremost.




amy_hoNext-up, we have Amy Ho, representing New Jersey.  Amy is a Chemical Engineering major with an interest in Energy Policy. She’s also in an Indian a cappella group and is known to make cat noises when provoked.




ben_weinerLast but not least is Ben Weiner, brining some Midwestern charm from Cincinnati. Ben is studying Physics, and is so dedicated to design that he watched the whole Helvetica documentary over spring break. He also writes about start-ups, labor unions, and China for a campus political magazine.




Without further ado, the moment you’ve all been waiting for – here are our fabulous projects:

Battery Recycling: “How can we encourage people to recycle their batteries?”

We are currently working on two initiatives: an easy-to-use and elegant battery-collection device that sorts and stores used batteries until they are shipped to recycling facilities, and an educational video that takes viewers through the process of battery recycling and its environmental impact.


Bike Team: “How can we create a sustainable biking culture at Yale?”

The Bike Team is working to promote a safe and sustainable biking culture at Yale and in New Haven. Our current project is a partnership with the Creative Arts Workshop and local businesses creating bike racks to be placed around the city. 


BluSense: “How can we make users more aware of the resources they are using?”

Our project aims to use a data-driven psychological approach to integrate personal and social awareness into a program for modifying behavior. We’re building a device to provide users with instantaneous feedback about water usage in order to change the way they think about resource consumption.



Urban Environment:  “How can make New Haven Residents proud of their city and improve the atmosphere of the city?”

The DFA Yale Urban Environment Team is looking to integrate agriculture and greenery in New Haven’s overwhelmingly gray atmosphere. In doing so, the team hopes to make New Haven residents more self-sufficient and more proud of their city.

Ergonomics: “How can we promote healthier posture in on-campus laptop use?”

The Ergonomic Team identified laptops as a key contact point for improving posture and preventing chronic health problems. In keeping with the spirit of creating the biggest impact with the smallest change, we started a lapdesk loaner program at our library and are currently working to promote it and increase awareness of the issue.

It hasn’t all been action-packed meet-ups and glamorous lapdesks, though; design isn’t easy, and neither is managing a bunch of designers. We hope that by sharing our pitfalls, other people can learn from them (or at least be able to commiserate).

Lessons Learned:

1)     Fail early and often! I think this is pretty standard DFA fare, but we didn’t commit to it as fully as we could have. We structured the year so that most of first semester was spent doing research and scoping, which is great, but a lot of the teams lost steam by the time we got into second semester. Next year, we’re going to push people to prototype and test their ideas earlier.

2)     Know thineself (and thine jobs)! We had issues delegating tasks efficiently this year, so we want to make the job descriptions of our leadership board more concrete and specific. Communicating with other members of the leadership team is essential, and it’s much easier when everyone understands what they’re supposed to be doing.

3)     Consistency is key! We spent a lot of time moving meetings around this year, which made it difficult to get all of our members out to events consistently. Starting next year, we’re doing a weekly meeting at the same time and place so that people always know what to expect and can plan accordingly.

After experimenting with a few different models, we’ve finally settled on the idea of Saturday Studio Time.  We want to create a high-energy, collaborative environment, and bringing all the teams together in one space has been the best way to do this for us. It also fosters more of a studio-wide culture and keeps teams apprised of each other’s progress, two areas we’re trying to improve.

All that being said, it’s been a truly phenomenal year, and we’re looking forward to one-upping it in the fall! We’re excited to be part of DFAmily, and looking forward to hearing from everyone else.

This is DFA Yale, signing out.