Aerospace students team up for SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Design contest

Aero HyperloopAcross the world, more than 100 university teams are gearing up for the highly anticipated SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Design Weekend at Texas A&M University that will be held Jan. 29 and 30 on the Texas A&M campus.

Among them is “TAMU Aerospace Hyperloop,” a team made up of 35 undergraduate and graduate students from the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M. Team members are a combination of AERO 417 and 489 classes and are under faculty advisors Dr. Adonios Karpetis and Dr. Moble Benedict.

TAMU Aerospace Hyperloop is broken into 10 groups so members are able to go into more depth than other teams might. As aerospace students, they have a unique understanding of the Hyperloop problem and conditions – challenges often found in the design of high-performance, high-altitude aircraft.

One student was skeptical of the entire Hyperloop concept, but being part of this team and learning more about it made the idea seem more feasible. A benefit to doing this as a class project is it has expanded the students’ learning beyond textbooks.

“With this project, you actually get to go through the design process and multiple iterations of the design. It’s helped build technical and coding skills,” says one student.

Hyperloop is an ultra-high-speed ground transport concept proposed by SpaceX and Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk in a 2013 white paper. The Hyperloop consists of a low-pressure tube with capsules that are transported at both low and high speeds throughout the length of the tube. The focus of the Hyperloop competition is to design a capsule or pod capable of transporting people in the Hyperloop.

Student teams will present their pod designs prototypes before a judging panel composed primarily of SpaceX engineers, Tesla Motors engineers and university professors. After receiving feedback, vetting and approval to proceed, the pods will be constructed and tested on a one-mile test track adjacent to SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California headquarters in a competition slated for June 2016.  

The design weekend offers more than just the competition. According to Dr. Greg Chamitoff, professor of practice in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and organizer of the design weekend, the event will include speakers, activities and a variety of tech demonstrations from companies. Companies will also be able to use the weekend as a time to select teams to sponsor by contributing funds toward the construction of a team’s pod.