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Table of Contents

A History of YSEA – Timeline
A History of YSEA – Text
Highlights from the Archives
Songs and Poems
Presidential Timeline

A History of YSEA


December 5, 1913

Genesis of Decision to Form YEA

At the 34th annual meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, dinner plans were made to form YEA, the older namesake of YSEA.

December 5, 1913
December 4, 1914

Founding of YEA

YEA was founded with an open-door membership policy for alumni. Many of the first members were from the Sheffield Scientific School.

December 4, 1914

Name Change to YSEA

With the dissolution of the Yale Engineering School, YEA decided to rebrand itself as the Yale Science and Engineering Association (YSEA).


Lobbying for Yale’s STEM Programs

In the face of major cuts to Yale’s applied sciences and engineering programs, YSEA lobbied for the continuation of these STEM programs.


Recruiting Interns

In the summer of 2021, YSEA recruited an inaugural cohort of interns to help with a variety of important tasks for the nonprofit.


Continued Support for Students

YSEA continues to advocate for science and engineering education on campus and help STEM students at Yale gain experience, break into industry, and connect to alumni.


The Yale Science & Engineering Association, Inc. traces its origin to the 34th annual meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers held in New York City Dec. 2-5, 1913 at the Engineer’s Society Building.

On the final evening of the ASME annual meeting, seven colleges held alumni reunions at various locations throughout New York City. Twenty-nine Yale alumni attended the dinner given at the Yale Club of New York. Professor Lester Paige Breckenridge, head of the Sheffield Scientific School, presided. At the dinner, plans were hatched to form a permanent Yale engineering alumni organization. A committee was appointed to consider the formation of a Yale Engineering Society, with an annual reunion to be a prominent feature.

One year later, the Yale Engineering Association (YEA) was founded on Dec. 4, 1914 at a meeting attended by 40 alumni. Membership was open to any Yale graduate, although “the association naturally appeals more strongly to those who are engaged in engineering pursuits, transportation or manufacturing.” Prior to the founding of YEA, alumni organizations primarily consisted of groups organized by class year or geographic designation. A circular outlining purposes and objectives was distributed to Yale graduates. Interest among Sheffield Scientific School alumni was high – at the end of September 1915, two months before the first official meeting, YEA membership neared 500. Prior to YEA’s official founding in 1914, alumni and faculty of the Sheffield Scientific School had been interested in creating an organization devoted to the welfare of the Sheffield School.

The first meeting of the Yale Engineering Association was held in November of 1915 in New Haven. During WW1, the Yale Engineering Association’s Committee on Military and Naval Preparedness sent out a questionnaire to YEA members requesting information on engineering credentials. The information was sent to the U.S. War Department, and 200 YEA members were enrolled into service by the end of 1917.

The Yale Engineering Association was also instrumental in developing the East Lyme Engineering Camp, which was a summer camp where Yale Engineering School students could gain field work experience. YEA also played a major effort in landscaping and beautifying the area around the Yale Bowl, aiding the Yale Scientific Magazine with funding, and lobbying the University about the importance of engineering and science educations.

In 1964, the organization suggested a name change to Yale Association for Science, Engineering, and Industry in conjunction with the dissolution of the Yale Engineering School. This name was later replaced with the organization’s current title — the Yale Science and Engineering Association. The decision to place science prior to engineering in the new name was a purposeful choice meant to persuade more science-oriented alumni to join YSEA.

Most notably, YSEA was incredibly involved in advocating for Yale’s engineering programs in the early 1990s when these programs were faced with budget cuts. Yale’s provost at the time, Frank Turner, started a new initiative entitled “Building on Our Strengths,” which made major cuts to the applied sciences department and put funds into Yale’s esteemed liberal arts programs instead. Engineering was to be reduced to almost half its size and merged into one department again, and many applied sciences programs were to be cut by more than 25 percent. To fight this, YSEA assembled as a whole organization to advocate against the proposed changes. YSEA gathered hundreds of letters of support for engineering from Yale Engineering alumni and lobbied for different allocations of funds. In response, the proposed cuts were reduced by roughly 50 percent, and the engineering departments were not consolidated into one.

YSEA continues to advocate for science and engineering education on campus and help STEM students at Yale gain experience, break into industry, and connect to alumni.

Highlights from the Archives

Over the decades, YSEA has taken many photos of its events and correspondence. Below are some of the best photos that we’ve chosen to display on this webpage!

Cartoon titled "New Members Wanted: YEA"
YEA cartoon titled “New Members Wanted”
YEA cartoon displaying the East Lyme Engineering camp
Cartoon proudly displaying the East Lyme camp for Yale engineering students.
YEA member handing off podium to another member at an annual reunion
YEA members interacting at an annual dinner reunion.
HYP Engineering Huddle invitation letter
1970 HYP Engineering Huddle invitation letter
HYP Engineering Huddle stadium
1970 Engineering Huddle: Members admiring the lunar modules to be used in the Apollo program.

Songs and Poems

One little known fact about YSEA is that it actually has its own theme song titled “YEA”! Composed in March 10, 1939, the song speaks of how Sheffield Scientific School students can count on YEA in times of need. It also mentions how YEA expanded the engineering program from a three year study into a four year study (first stanza) and how YEA was instrumental in giving engineering students the East Lyme engineering camp to spend their summer at (third stanza).

YEA members also composed a song titled “To ‘Breck’,” celebrating Lester P. Breckenridge, a YEA member instrumental in setting up the association in its early days. “To ‘Breck'” was composed on February 18, 1939.


YEA theme song, composed on March 10, 1939.

To “Breck”

“To ‘Breck’,” composed on February 18, 1939.

In addition to composing songs, YEA members also wrote poetry for the organization! Here are two poems found from the archives; “The Engineer” speaks of what life was like as an engineer back in the late 1930s, and “To the Book” ruminates on the act of studying late at night. These poems were distributed at the 1938 YEA annual dinner. The authors are unknown.

The Engineer

The engineer builds bridges in the wild and woolly West

And he starts electric railways in the East. 

In the North he makes his surveys while his scanty rations freeze. 

In the south he swears and scratches in the fleas. 

O no matter when you find him he is always on the go. 

And believes me it is luck that its so. 

He’s the mean that puts the pop in life and keeps things on the hop. 

But for him the world would 

Wobble – skid – and 


To the Book 

Tender child of midnight oil 

Fathered by a few spare hours

Thou art very very late 

Gone are all sweet spring flowers

First we heard of thee in March 

Then again in gentle May 

How July moves on apace

Did thy printer loose his ways? 

Nay excuses save thee not. 

Lists and Liars begin with L. 

Next time make thee better speed

Or we’ll make a better rhyme

Presidential Timeline

List of Past Presidents