Hyperloop Team makes the cut to continue on in competition


Imagine a world where you can get from one side of the country to another in a fraction of the normal time. The idea of the Hyperloop has now made what was one time a dream, a reality.

The founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, Elon Musk, brought this high-speed transportation system to the world. Here at Lehigh University, we have our own Hyperloop club that is working on a design. They entered a contest that began with 3,000 entrants. Now narrowed down to 50 teams, they must present their design in Texas come January.

The competition was created by SpaceX to design and build a half-scale Hyperloop. Clubs from universities and colleges all across the nation have entered to try and get a shot at having their design selected.

“To prepare for Texas, we are finishing our design and doing simulations as well as build plans and cost breakdowns,” said Correll French, ’17.

French and the rest of Lehigh’s Hyperloop team were recently assembled. There have been a number of different people involved. They have found that their team is always growing.

“People are dropping in and dropping out all the time so we definitely welcome new people. It’s a huge project in more ways than one, and we’re certainly always looking for new help,” said club secretary Kyle Higgins, ’18. “Some of us were friends going into the project but most of us were brought together with this goal in mind. In a short time, I think we’ve bonded a lot with the project.”

One thing that some of the club members stressed is the new rules and requirements that SpaceX comes out with for competition. They need to be able to come up with new ideas and think on their feet.

When French learned about this new project, he had to figure out which faculty member he could contact about being the advisor for the club.

“Correll French had come across the opportunity and approached me to be the faculty advisor for the project,” said professor Terry Hart.

He saw this as a great chance for Lehigh students to represent themselves, and professor Hart’s knowledge and background with astrophysics made it an easy decision for him to make. Hart helped Correll identify some school faculty to approach so that they could get more assistance from members of the Lehigh community.

Lehigh’s team has a lot of confidence going into January when they have to present their designs to everyone involved. Eventually, the ideal situation is for them to get funded by corporations and take their prototype to the building phase.

“Our goal for January is to win approval to go forward with the prototype build and gain corporate sponsors from the event to pay for the prototype,” said French.

SpaceX is hosting an event in June of 2016 for the contestants to present their prototypes. They are calling it competition weekend. It will give the contestants a chance to show off what they have been working so hard on for so many months.

The next step for the project is to submit a more detailed design proposal, which is due before they head down to Texas. Currently, the members of the Hyperloop team are looking for funds that Lehigh can provide for transportation costs.

“We are always trying to reach out to alumni of Lehigh who have an interest in the fields,” said Higgins. “This project will likely be around six figures so we take all of the help we can get.”

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