By Leila Ugincius
Hyperloop at VCU, a student organization devoted to designing and building a transportation pod for SpaceX's 2018 Hyperloop Pod Competition, is part of an elite group of 20 teams selected internationally to advance to the final round this summer.
The competition challenges university teams to design and build the best transport pod for Hyperloop, a high-speed ground transport concept being advanced by SpaceX founder Elon Musk. The primary criterion is achieving maximum speed with the self-propelled pod vehicle.
“I can see Hyperloop becoming the transportation of the 21st century, and I wanted to be a part of making that happen,” said Arthur Chadwick, a sophomore mechanical engineering student and founder and president of Hyperloop at VCU. “By working with cross-disciplinary students to contribute to the improvement of the Hyperloop technology, this endeavor has given me great satisfaction and experience in project management and product design."
The team formed in fall 2017. It comprises about 50 students — including a few from the schools of Business and the Arts — divided into teams to work on different areas of the pod.
“This is an excellently organized, focused and self-directed group of students dedicated to achieving entry into the final performance competition in California,” said L. Franklin Bost, M.B.A., I.D.S.A., F.A.I.M.B.E., executive associate dean for Innovation and Outreach, director of the VCU Institute for Engineering and Medicine and professor in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering.
Bost is faculty adviser for the Hyperloop Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP@VCU) team, which is composed of the section leaders for pod design, propulsion system, controls, electronics, skid/frame design, vehicle, construction, fundraising and marketing groups.
Charles Cartin, Ph.D., assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering, is faculty adviser for the Hyperloop student organization, which includes students from every discipline within the School of Engineering. Cartin said the team has met and exceeded all the requirements set forth by SpaceX at this time. The team, he said, has “met every milestone efficiently and effectively while maintaining the highest level of professionalism. The team is working together diligently to successfully complete the final prototype for competition…and they have done a great job. I could not be more proud.”
The mechanical team, led by mechanical engineering majors Patrick Welch and Brendan Fisher, is in charge of stability, brakes, shell and suspension. Mechanical engineering major Jay Khandpur leads the propulsion team. Computer engineering major Matthew Kozak and computer science major John Naylor oversee the control team, which is responsible for software design, protocols, hardware and layout and design.
The marketing and fundraising teams, led by marketing major Radha Kapadia and business major Harry Powers respectively, work together to establish a brand, create a sponsorship package and secure connections with businesses.
“This is only the beginning of VCU Engineering changing how innovation is thought of,” Chadwick said. “This is only one of the many endeavors that will be changing the world.”