During the last weekend in January, Mudd’s Hyperloop team traveled to Design Weekend in Texas to present their designs for a Hyperloop pod. The Hyperloop is a proposed high-speed ground transportation system, and students from universities all over the country are participating in SpaceX’s competition to design a pod that can safely be used in such a system. Mudd students Teresa Despres, Alex Goldstein, Hamza Khan, Chris Kotcherha, Jessica Lupanow, Patrick McKeen, Jeewan Naik, Adam Shaw, Insung Song, and Hannah Zosman, in conjunction with students from five other universities, form the team OpenLoop. They worked all first semester to design a pod and then presented this design to a panel in Texas.
“I can’t really compare [Design Weekend] to anything else, but it really felt like we were contributing to something important, something real,” Kotcherha ’18 said. “Also, seeing Elon Musk was nuts.”
Over the course of the weekend, the team identified a flaw in their design: one of their parts was not within the given specifications. Once they realized this, though, they contacted the Hyperloop panel and explained how they could fix the part to be within specifications. Fortunately, the panel thought that their overall design was excellent and agreed to let them move on in the competition provided they submit a detailed outline about how they would fix their part. Now, the team’s focus for this semester is the actual construction of their pod.
“Our goal is to develop a controls algorithm so we can take sensor data from the outside and use that to figure out where our pod is and how fast it’s going,” Goldstein ’18 said. “Then, [we can] use that to make sure it actively balances out any vibrations in pod control and pod movement.” This summer all the teams will reconvene at a test track built by SpaceX to test their full-scale Hyperloop pods. As SpaceX says, #Breakapod!