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Love is in the air

Scientists may not have found the formula for a love potion just yet, but at Yale’s Center for Engineering Innovation and Design (CEID), located on the first floor of the Becton Engineering Center, they are trying the next best thing.

A School of Engineering and Applied Science event this afternoon—just hours before the beginning of Valentine’s Day—invited Yalies to engineer a signature scent “for you or your Valentine” this year. Roughly two dozen students and community members gathered by a table lined with premade scents—including almond, ginger, peppermint, sea spray, and Columbian coffee—as the event began. Personnel from the SEAS dean's office, bedecked in white lab coats, asked participants to don safety goggles and “take a whiff of all the scents” before mixing their own signature concoctions.

“We want to hammer home the point that engineering makes sense. We want to take chemical engineering and put it into everyday life,” said Vincent Wilczynski, the James S. Tyler Director of the CEID and—for today, at least—the self-styled Commander of Fragrance. “And we want to make our mark on Valentine’s Day.”

Wilczynski advised adding 5 milliliters of scent for every 15 milliliters of carrier oil, a scentless solution that would prevent the mixtures from evaporating. He moved along the table, offering fun facts—“Did you know that mixing lavender and vanilla makes the bubble gum scent?”—and advising students as they filled beakers with fragrances.

A steady stream of onlookers approached the table as the event continued, many donning safety glasses and grabbing beakers for themselves. Valentine’s Day–themed music played on a loop in the background.

After he finished mixing his scent, Chris Datsikas ’16 corked his beaker and tied on a decorative “Y,” which was cut from the CEID’s laser printer. “I'm going to show it to my non-engineering friends,” said Datsikas, who heard about the event through the CEID e-mail list.

“Mine is mostly vanilla with some sea spray, peppermint, and coffee,” said James Diao ’18, as he took a whiff of his signature fragrance. “Hmm, it’s not as strong as I thought it would be.”

Wilczynski counseled students to take their time mixing scents, warning that certain solutions—the sandalwood, for instance—could be overpowering. “Making scents isn’t easy, even for engineers,” he said.Love takes work.”


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.

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