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Rutgers students join Hyperloop team, advance to next round

Four students from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering partnered with several students at the University of Maryland to develop their own hyperloop pod. – Photo by Shreyas Hirday

Rutgers students continue working on their goal to revolutionize transportation by advancing to the next round in the SpaceX Hyperloop Design competition.

Elon Musk proposed a hyperloop, a form of high-speed ground transportation, that would let people travel on a cushion of air at 700 miles per hour.

While he is not developing a version himself, SpaceX opened a competition designed to engage various universities.

Hyperloop would be a new form of transportation that has the potential to transform the connectivity of the world as we know it, according to the RUMD Loop team’s website.

The hyperloop consists of a tube with a low interior pressure through which a pod can travel at high speeds, said Shreyas Hirday, a School of Engineering junior.

It is designed for inter-city travel. This means it can cover the distance between Boston to New York City, or from San Francisco to Los Angeles, in an extremely short amount of time, he said

Hirday reached out to his friend, a student from the University of Maryland, and entered the competition. The team consists of about 30 students from both Rutgers and the University of Maryland, he said. 

The RUMD Loop team submitted their proposal last year, and recently presented it to judges at Texas A&M University.

The audience included esteemed faculty members from various universities, as well as Elon Musk and various Tesla engineers.

“We spent about six months designing the pod. We started with just two people, and over the course of the design period we had around 28 people,” Hirday said.

Along with Hirday, Michael Feinstein, a School of Engineering senior, and Cedric Blake and Dominic Ok, School of Engineering juniors, participated in the competition, said Athina Petropulu, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. 

Each of the teams was asked to come up with a design for the hyperloop. 

“Our pod is designed to complete the mile-long test track in 23 seconds at a top speed of approximately 215 miles per hour. We believe this will allow us to be one of the top placing teams in the speed category at competition weekend,” according to the team’s website.

While most of the teams at the competition were comprised of graduate students with advanced degrees, Hirday said the RUMD Loop team consisted solely of undergraduate students who managed to create a design for the hyperloop with little faculty help. 

The RUMD Loop team placed ninth out of 22 teams in the competition. This advances them to the next round, where the team members get the chance to actually create and build their own design. 

“We did something that one would expect professional engineers to do, but we are just undergraduate students,” he said

The next round will take over the summer in Hawthorne, California, where SpaceX has constructed a 1-mile test track where the participating teams will test their pods, according to a statement released by the official SpaceX website.

Through a technological perspective, implementing and using the hyperloop throughout the nation and even other countries is quite possible and could potentially change the world, Hirday said. 

“It would change the world at a large scale, or at least provide the spark for a transportation revolution, and actually building the pod could perhaps be the first step in making this a nationwide or worldwide system,” Hirday said.


Sofiya Nedelcheva is a School of Engineering first-year student. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @n_sofiyaaa for more.

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