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Virginia Tech Hyperloop team places fourth at international SpaceX competition

January 30, 2017

Virginia Tech Hyperloop team
The Virginia Tech Hyperloop team competes at the SpaceX Hyperloop track in Hawthorne, California.

The Virginia Tech Hyperloop team placed fourth in the international SpaceX Hyperloop I competition ­­­­— a two-part contest that challenges teams to design and build a passenger-carrying pod that is propelled through a near-vacuum tube at more than airliner speed.

The team, which placed fourth at the first Hyperloop Pod Design competition in 2016, finished fourth out of 27 entries in the latest round. Following the completion of Hyperloop I, the team will begin preparing for Hyperloop II competition, taking place over the summer.

”We did really well in most portions of the competition," said Shayan Malik, team lead and senior in mechanical engineering from Leesburg, Virginia.

The team gained honorable mentions in the operations and procedures, and design and construction categories.

“Overall though, it was a great student experience," Malik added. "We were able to bring out the crew who will take over the project and bring us through the next phase of competition this summer.”

The Virginia Tech team was one of two teams consisting of undergraduate students to place in the top five. The University of Maryland team, also comprised of undergraduate students, placed fifth.

A team of graduate students from Delft University in the Netherlands received the highest overall score.

Virginia Tech’s Hyperloop pod, the V-17, was a late development for the team after a redesign and build of their original pod, Vhyper, in September. The new pod was 20 percent lighter and about 2 feet shorter than the original pod and lacked the cold-gas propulsion system of the original.

Members of the Hyperloop team
Virginia Tech's Hyperloop team placed fourth overall.

The team plans to regroup and start preparing for Hyperloop II competition. The plan will be to integrate the propulsion system back into the pod design.

”Just having the opportunity to put a pod in a Hyperloop tube and see what happens in a real environment allows us to take home a lot of data that will be beneficial as we modify our pod for the next competition,” Malik said. “We are thankful for the support of the Virginia Tech community, our sponsors, and advisors.”

The Virginia Tech Hyperloop team is co-advised by H. Pat Artis, professor of practice, aerospace and ocean engineering; Robert Parker, L.S. Randolph Professor of Mechanical Engineering; David Goldsmith, assistant professor of practice, Myers Lawson School of Construction; and Dewey Spangler, manager of the Joseph F. Ware Jr. Laboratory.

“We are proud of the hard work of our students,” said Artis. “The team is eager to get back to work and get ready for the next round.”

For more about the Virginia Tech Hyperloop team:

Written by Rosaire Bushey

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