Students Experiencing Life In The Fast Lane

loop team

“Experience The Future At 500 KM/H”.

Yep, that’s “life in the fast lane”, and it’s what a number of local postsecondary students are experimenting with right now.

Currently, 14 St. Clairians are on-board a college-University of Windsor team that has become a finalist in a prestigious international design contest staged by Elon Musk’s SpaceX corporation.

The UofW/St. Clair team is one of 22 finalists – of 1,300 entries from postsecondary institutions around the world – to qualify for the 2019 Hyperloop competition in California this July.

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Hyperloop is inventor/entrepreneur Elon Musk’s concept of high-speed ground transportation. Wikipedia describes it as “a proposed mode of passenger and/or freight transportation, first used to describe an open-source vactrain design released by a joint team from Tesla and SpaceX. Drawing heavily from (physicist/rocket-inventor) Robert Goddard's vactrain, a hyperloop is a sealed tube or system of tubes through which a pod may travel free of air resistance or friction conveying people or objects at high speed while being very efficient.”

According to Hyperloop documents (https://www.spacex.com/hyperloop and https://www.spacex.com/sites/spacex/files/2019hyperloopcompetitionrulesandrequirements.pdf), “In order to accelerate the development of a functional prototype and to encourage student innovation, SpaceX announced the Hyperloop Pod Competition in 2015 to design and build high-speed Hyperloop Pods. For this competition, student teams from around the country and world came together for a Design Weekend in January 2016 to share their Pod designs. Top teams advanced to the build phase, and spent 2016 turning their designs into functional Pods. These teams then competed in the first Hyperloop Pod Competition in January 2017, where they raced their Pods on SpaceX’s Hyperloop Test Track adjacent to its Hawthorne, California headquarters. Two subsequent competitions were held in August 2017 and in July 2018. Based on the continued success of teams competing in the Hyperloop Competition, SpaceX is moving forward with a fourth competition: the 2019 Hyperloop Pod Competition.”

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And the UofW/St. Clair team captured its spot in that event, according to St. Clair Professor/team advisor Ivan Canjar, “after live-streaming their design presentation to SpaceX on February 24 – which included a grueling, two-hour interview about their design.”

The local team will be joined in the July contest by such previous Hyperloop contest participants (and winners) as the Delft University of Technology of Holland; the Scientific Workgroup for Rocketry and Space Flight of the Technical University of Munich, Germany; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and the University of California, Berkeley.

Over the past several years, other participating Canadian schools have included the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo, and Newfoundland’s Memorial University.

The academic disciplines involved in the project are varied. From St. Clair, currently represented programs include Mechanical Technician – Computer Assisted Design/Computer Assisted Manufacturing (CAD/CAM), Mechanical Engineering Technology - Automotive Product Design, and Mechanical Engineering Technician – Industrial. The UofW’s membership includes students from Engineering and Business.

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The St. Clair portion of the joint university/college team includes students Fabio Pellarin, Harshkumar Prajapati, Jason Le, Jeff Patrick, Juan Porras, Luka Mlinarevic, Mohammed Alsalah, Kevin Villages, Tracey Remeloso-Talbot, Kirubel Yitna, Susie Tweney and Tiansong Shan. St. Clair faculty advisors are Professors Ivan Canjar and Domenico Rossi.

Between now and the week-long competition in California in July, the students will be seeking sponsorships (the estimated cost of the whole project and attending the competition is $87,000), refining designs and calculations, and building and testing their pod …

… So, it still needs and welcomes new members. It is seeking self-motivated and willing-to-learn students with expertise in:

• Graphic Design: knowledge of software like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Premier for video-editing (for marketing/sponsorship-pitching purposes);

• Information Technology:

– to set up the total IT infrastructure to collect, store and analyze the data;

– to set up a network within the pod for the communication between different modules;

– to suggest how they can improve the current design regarding IT;

• Mechanical CAD:

– students who are able to CAD models in Catia, NX, Fusion360;

– perform FEA analysis on various parts and mechanisms;

• Manufacturing:

– take CAD models and apply them to CAM software;

– students who would be able to manufacture parts (possibly with mills, lathes, CNC machines);

• Electrical: able to CAD electrical wiring of subsystems.

Interested? Contact Professor Ivan Canjar at icanjar@stclaircollege.ca.

Prospective sponsors/donors should also contact Canjar.

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More details from Wikipedia:

“The Hyperloop Alpha concept was first published in August 2013, proposing and examining a route running from the Los Angeles region to the San Francisco Bay Area … The Hyperloop Genesis paper conceived of a hyperloop system that would propel passengers along the 350-mile (560 kilometres) route at a speed of 760 miles-per-hour (1,200 kilometres-per-hour), allowing for a travel time of 35 minutes …

“… The Hyperloop concept has been explicitly ‘open-sourced’ by Musk and SpaceX, and others have been encouraged to take the ideas and further develop them.

“To that end, a few companies have been formed, and several interdisciplinary student-led teams are working to advance the technology. SpaceX built an approximately one-mile-long subscale track for its pod design competition at its headquarters in Hawthorne, California.”

For more info about the UWinLoop/SCCLoop team, see https://www.uwinloop.com/