The Hyperloop competition
Over the summer of 2015, a competition was announced by Elon Musk and SpaceX for student teams at universities, community colleges and high schools - as well as independent teams - to participate in the design of a new prototype transportation system called the Hyperloop. Elon Musk’s concept challenged the California High Speed Rail project with a revived concept that had been presented early in the twentieth century by early engineers and rocket scientists - vacuum tube transportation.
Constraints and parameters
Competition rules were relatively simple in concept but enormously complex in solvability: Design a capsule to carry passengers that will travel in a vacuum tube evacuated to 1/20th the atmosphere of Mars, from San Francisco to Los Angeles in approximately 35 minutes, while solving all propulsion, navigation, braking and safety challenges.
Winning teams who prequalified would appear at Texas A&M University to present to a panel of judges from a variety of schools and Space-X. Finalists would be funded to construct the actual capsule at half scale for a proposed June test date in Hawthorne California on the Hyperloop test track.
After working in 2015 to develop a prototype capsule proposal, DVC was among a select group of schools that were chosen to compete in Texas A&M University for funding to construct their design at half scale. With finalists announced, the DVC team worked over winter break of 2015-2016 to further develop their presentation and design.
This team of 15 students, accompanied by professors Daniel Abbott, Qi Zhu, Bruce Brumfield and Tish Young, Dean of Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences and Engineering, traveled to Texas A&M University to participate in the Hyperloop competition sponsored by Space X and various industry partners in the Hyperloop development currently taking place in the United States as proposed by Elon Musk.
The competition was highly competitive and featured participating schools from around the world and notable universities including MIT, Harvard, UC Berkeley and other top ranking engineering colleges.
Concepts and design approach
DVC placed among the top finalists and presented a concept design for the final judging. The project focused on the engineering required for an air levitated vehicle which would travel in an evacuated tube simulating the Hyperloop test vehicle concept. Various aspects of the design were developed by a variety of student teams including a telemetry system, capsule structural system and levitation system.