A team of University of Wisconsin students earned an innovation award after competing at the Hyperloop Competition Weekend II in Hawthorne, California on Aug. 25-27.
The goal of the competition was to clock the fastest speed on the one-mile SpaceX Hyperloop at SpaceX headquarters, according to a UW engineering news release. The competition brought together 25 teams and 600 students from around the world.
The team, Badgerloop, was founded in 2015 and is comprised of mainly undergraduate engineering students.
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To enter the competition the team had to first submit their design to SpaceX, team member Mark Swartz said. They were then given feedback to modify their design. After the design was approved, the manufacturing process began for the pod.
“Once we got the go ahead we were accepted into the competition, we started building our design,” Swartz said. “[We spent] a lot of time in our office manufacturing the parts, putting them all together and putting all of the designs into reality.”
The week before the actual competition weekend, the team spent time in California going through tests with SpaceX and working on their design, Swartz said. The tests were there to ensure pods could safely go through the high speed tubes.
The team spent seven days improving their design after a long day of testing at SpaceX headquarters. This was the most stressful part because it was a time intensive competition to get their pods approved by a SpaceX advisor, Swartz said.
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At a previous competition, the team was able to meet the owners of a local auto body shop who allowed them to come in and work on their pod after the safety tests, Swartz said.
“It was a lot of getting up early and heading over to SpaceX headquarters,” Swartz said. “We’d take [the pod] over there and pretty much work on the pod most nights.”
The first three teams to pass all the tests were the only ones allowed to run their pods on the vacuum tube, Swartz said.
Badgerloop was not one of the first three teams but they did receive an innovation award, Swartz said. They are the only team to do so in back-to-back competitions.
The innovation award is given by the judges based on a team’s innovative technologies, Swartz said. For Badgerloop, the propulsion system set them above their competitors.
In the Badgerloop pod, the propulsion system has a base of nitrogen tanks connected to thrusters with curved piping, according to the UW engineering news release.
The team is looking forward to advancing further in future competitions, Kali Kinziger, Badgerloop president, said. They are working on improving their systems and trying out new technologies.
The team is also looking for new members both inside and outside the engineering department, Kiniziger said.
“We’re also excited about our new members and hope that everyone is able to take advantage of the opportunities provided,” Kinziger said.