Category Archives: Events

YUAA Speaker Series: Richard Sorkin

Sorkin Event

Today, in the Silliman Annex, YUAA hosted a casual Q&A session with Mr. Richard Sorkin. This was a great opportunity to ask him questions and listen to his lessons from his experiences at Yale, Silicon Valley, politics, and life. Mr. Sorkin talked about what founders such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Peter Thiel, and Elon Musk are really like, and what makes them successful (including a discussion of the Boy Scout – Sociopath spectrum!). Mr. Sorkin spoke about what it’s like to work with a Member of Congress and be involved in POTUS Transition.

Mr. Sorkin is a Silicon Valley based serial entrepreneur, executive, advisor, board member and investor, with total exits exceeding $1 billion and a track record of scaling revenue from $0-20M and $100-$800M. For over 20 years, he has led breakthrough companies commercializing transformative technologies, most recently in Big Data predictive analytics with a focus on energy, the environment, financial services, and politics. Mr. Sorkin’s prior experience includes NASA, Goldman Sachs, Bain, and Kaggle. He has served as a Board Member at private and public companies as well as JFCS, AIPAC PNW, and the Yale Development Board. Extensive political experience includes work on the big data strategy for the 2016 Presidential campaign, Chair of the Technology Advisory Board of Congressman Devin Nunes, and extensive advocacy work in Congress.

YUAA Speaker Series: Alden Richards

alden richards v2
Alden Richards, Space Cowboy



In our second speaker series event of the 2016-2017 academic year, we invited Alden Richards, Yale class of 1977, to talk to our members and those of the Yale community about his experiences in the space industry. In a whirlwind 2-hour talk, he took the audience on a journey from the early origins of rockets to his visions of the future of commercial spaceflight.

He spoke about his extremely varied life experiences, and how despite majoring in Medieval English Literature and Contemporary Chinese Legal Practices at Yale, he ended up as a consultant for many space companies, specialising in the high-risk, high-reward field of satellite insurance. A couple of decades ago, WIRED magazine even dubbed him “Space Cowboy” for his charismatic emergence onto the scene. Mr. Richards also teaches a very popular college seminar at Yale titled “Space Industry in US History”, which continues to be very in demand.

YUAA was extremely honoured to host Alden Richards for our ongoing speaker series, and we hope to continue our association with him in the years to come.

YUAA Speaker Series Talk with Andy Hoskins

In what was one of our most successful speaker series talks to date, YUAA invited Andy Hoskins (Yale ’84) from Aerojet Rocketdyne to talk to members of the Yale community about his work in electric propulsion and his thoughts on the future of the space industry. The lecture was held on Friday, February 12 in the lecture space at the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design (CEID). We had a very good turnout with many members and non-members present to listen to Mr. Hoskins talk about electric propulsion, Japanese space probe adventures, Mars missions, as well as his life after Yale.



In what turned out to be an extremely fascinating, inspiring, and engaging lecture, Mr. Hoskins talked about the different kinds of electric propulsion technologies that Aerojet Rocketdyne develops, including Hall Thrusters and Ion Engines. He spoke about their usefulness and helping reduce the mass of spacecraft, leading to more economical, cost-effective launches. The audience remained engaged throughout the 2-hour talk and there was even a sparkling Q&A session afterward.



Highlights from the lecture included the story of the Japanese Hayabusa space probe that lost its way in space and managed to limp back to Earth on the power of its ion engines (despite failures in the navigation and chemical propulsion systems), his thoughts on the future of Mars exploration, and a particularly inspiring statement comparing the work of aerospace engineers to medieval cathedral builders – lasting and awe-inspring work for the generations.

YUAA would like to thank Mr. Hoskins and Aerojet Rocketdyne for this wonderful opportunity.


Stay tuned for more news about our speaker events!

Entrepreneurship in Aerospace: YUAA Speaker Series

On 5th December, The Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association invited Dr. Robert Breault (Yale ’62), the founder and president of the Breault Research Organization, to Yale to speak about leadership and entrepreneurship in aerospace. This was the second YUAA Speaker Series event of the semester. Dr. Breault is one of the world’s leading experts in the area of stray light analysis and suppression and the chairman of the Arizona Optics Industry Association.

YUAA hoped to bring Dr. Breault to speak to both our members and to the broader Yale community. We believe that his life experiences and insights can help students thinking about careers in aerospace or in STEM more generally better understand their options. In particular, Dr. Breault recounted his experiences in starting his own company.

The event, held in the Lecture Space in the CEID, saw a pretty good turnout, with both members and non-members in attendance.



At the event, Dr. Breault recounted many of his life experiences, from his scientific experiments in middle school to his time in the military and to his experiences with founding the Breault Research Organisation. He also regaled the attendees with many of his interesting experiences from his time as a Yale undergraduate.

The event was a good success, and was an inspiration for the students who attended. After the talk, they also got the opportunity to interact with Dr. Breault over dinner, held in Silliman College.

YUAA Receives White House Commendation!

On Monday, October 19, President Obama hosted the 2nd White House Astronomy Night in conjunction with the Office of Science Technology and Policy. Highlights of the evening included a stargazing party on the White House lawns, speeches by distinguished luminaries in the field of astronomy and space science, and the opportunity for guests to network and interact with each other in a celebration of astronomy and STEM education.


Present at the White House was none other than YUAA member Lauren Chambers (Timothy Dwight ’17), representing the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association at the prestigious event. It was a great honour for both Lauren and YUAA, and symbolic of how far Yale Aerospace has come over the last 5 years.


“It’s exciting that the White House is having the event to begin with, but to be involved with it is really great,” said Lauren. She is one of the co-leaders of YUAA’s Optical Telescope project, along with Scott Smith (Branford ’18), who had the following words to add about the scope of their project – “We want to use it as a tool to get people who wouldn’t normally think about astronomy excited about astronomy.”

The cherry on the cake was when the White House Office of the Press Secretary officially recognised the efforts and achievements of the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association on their website. Both the Optical Telescope project and YUAA’s CubeSat project, led by Betsy Li (Saybrook ’18), were recognised as important student contributions to the field of astronomy and space exploration. You can read further about the press release at:

This was truly a momentous occasion for Yale’s premier student-run aerospace organisation, one that we hope will continue to inspire members of the Yale community to explore the possibilities associated with space exploration. To read the Yale School of Engineering’s blog post about YUAA’s role in the White House Astronomy Night, please visit:



The Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association (YUAA) hosted its 3rd annual Aeronautica event on 25th March, 2015 in Sudler Hall, 4:30. It was an evening of rockets, radio telescopes, rovers, and aircraft; a display of the incredible work being carried out by members of YUAA, and a showcase of the scope and power of Yale’s engineering community.

1YUAA is Yale’s largest engineering organization with upwards of 50 active members with backgrounds ranging from engineering to economics, and Aeronautica is YUAA’s most important showcase event of the year where project leaders share their accomplishments with Yale and the local community. Former Presidents Ari Brill ’15 and Jeff Gau ’16 gave a keynote address, highlighting everything the organisation has achieved so far, and what it hopes to achieve in the future. Following the address, the audience was invited to tour the auditorium to look at the various projects, which included a multi-stage rocket, a 2.4 meter radio telescope, a rocket that can deploy a planetary rover, and an unmanned aerial vehicle.


The keynote address itself was delivered beautifully by Ari and Jeff, who presented Yale Aerospace and its role in the Yale community. Ari went through 5 years of YUAA history, from the first projects like high altitude balloons to last year’s IREC (Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition), in which the YUAA team successfully launched and deployed a rocket with a payload designed to test the effects of special relativity. Jeff, on the other hand, talked about the impact that YUAA has had, both at Yale and beyond. His presentation highlighted the role of the organisation in STEM outreach events like SPLASH, the incredible alumni network that YUAA has built up over the past few years, and outreach programs at the nearby Wilbur Cross High School.


With distinguished guests in the audience, including President Peter Salovey, Dean Jonathan Holloway, and Deputy Dean of Yale Engineering Vincent Wilczynski, the team was proud to showcase the results of the hard work and dedication its members have put in over the last 2 semesters. As a graduating senior, Ari stated, “I would have loved to have been a part of this year’s projects, especially the astronomy-based project, but because I, as a senior advisor, couldn’t do that, I did the second-best thing I could — I contributed to building this organization to give it the support it needs to continue growing.” His words embody the vision that YUAA holds moving forward – that of expanding its student base and bolstering the STEM community at Yale.

[To read more, here is a link to the Yale SEAS blog about Aeronautica 2015:]

YUAA Members Tour Kaman Aerospace

This past Friday, YUAA members traveled to Bloomfield, CT where they toured Kaman Aerospace’s Specialty Bearings & Engineered Products facility. The team was hosted by Kristofer Kolstad, who graduated from Yale with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, and now works for Kaman Aerospace as the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development.


Kaman prides itself on following LEAN manufacturing techniques. The group got to hear about the company’s efficient assembly process, as well as see some of the helicopters they are currently working on. Members said the visit was both interesting and informative. For many, seeing the work experienced engineers are doing increased their interest in the industry.

YUAA Members Meet with Gregory Woo

Last Sunday after an exciting first meeting back after break, YUAA members stuck around to meet Gregory Woo who came to talk about his work and experience in the aerospace industry. Mr. Woo is a Yale alumnus with a B.S. in electrical engineering and digital systems. He went on to obtain a master’s degree in organizational management and development from Fielding Graduate University. After years working at Millicorp, Mr. Woo decided he wanted to pursue a career in aviation. He is now a Ph.D. candidate studying Aviation Safety and Human Factors in the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Ph.D. in Aviation program. He currently works as a program manager and senior operations research analyst at the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in the US Department of Transportation’s Office of Research and Technology.


Mr. Woo told members about his work at the Volpe Center and opportunities for engineers in the future. He discussed problems associated with navigation and implications of changing technologies. He also emphasized taking advantage of opportunities to lead well while at school, either by observing others or taking on leadership roles yourself.


In his free time, Mr. Woo acts as a flight instructor, and is an active pilot licensed to fly Boeing 737 type ratings and single-engine and multi-engine airplane ratings.

Family Weekend

Every year, Yale hosts Family Weekend, during which students’ families and friends are welcomed onto campus to see what exciting things we do. It’s an opportunity to show off our school spirit and current projects. YUAA was delighted to have several team members’ parents at last week’s meeting.

YUAA Parents

YUAA turns 5 years old!


YUAA celebrated its 5th birthday today with its wonderful new and former members! The team roasted marshmallows, engaged in great conversations, and blew out the candle on the YUAA’s cake. The YUAA was very excited to turn five years old because it would not have made it this far without all of its dedicated members. Their dedication is what keeps the club alive and well, and their interest in aerospace engineering and the advancement of Yale engineering are what allow the YUAA to continually reach new heights. Visit our gallery to see more pictures!