Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, announced a contest in 2015 for university students to design a pod for their hyperloop system, a high-speed travel vehicle. After two rounds of elimination, Waterloop made it to the final round, held at SpaceX’s headquarters in California.
“A lot of teams from all over the world participated and really collaborated, and focused on ‘how do we get this technology to a standpoint that brings it closer to reality,’” acting Waterloop technical lead Jake Malliaros said. “Instead of trying to hide the designs or hide the ideas, everyone is very open to sharing their ideas so eventually this technology can come quicker.”
When asked about his experience at SpaceX, Malliaros thought the competition was a great opportunity to get feedback from SpaceX and the other teams.
“I think our pod stood a bit differently, particularly how simple it was constructed and the way it was aesthetically made,” Malliaros said. “We were also one of the only teams that had a 300-foot test track and SpaceX absolutely loved that, and so the other teams were impressed by that as well.”
According to Malliaros, the Hyperloop Competition II has a different focus than the previous competition.
“Instead of overall categories and different areas of scoring, [the competition is] mainly focusing on maximum speed in the tube and successful braking of the acceleration without crashing,” Malliaros said.
Until the competition, the Waterloop team will be working to improve the pod.
“We want to generally make sure that we really make the pod absolutely complete and ready for all of the safety scenarios that could possibly go wrong, especially with all the modifications,” Malliaros said. “Ideally we are going to be light-weighting, we’re going to be making it simpler, we’re going to make the pieces come together a bit easier, and … [make] sure that the technology will be brought into light.”
With the Hyperloop Competition II coming in August, Malliaros thinks students should join the Waterloop team, as it is a great way to get involved.
“I think Waterloop is a great way to get that extracurricular and get extra participation in areas they might not always have in a classroom,” Malliaros said. “It really is a good way to get a sense of design and collaboration with many faculties, and incorporate a lot of the core things that make something like this possible.”