By Mark Bloom Technology Editor. Self-driving cars, reusable spaceships, and recyclable solar energy might seem farfetched; however, Silicon Valley pioneer, Elon Musk, has made these futuristic technologies into reality. His latest project, the Hyperloop, will be the next step towards Musk’s vision for a more efficient, green future on Earth.
Musk and his team at SpaceX have recently extended a challenge to 6,000 universities to aid them on the Hyperloop, which will send aerodynamic pods of people across hundreds of miles. The transport will move at extreme speeds – about 700mph – and will be powered purely by solar energy.
SHS Junior Ian Camili says Musk’s new project is an outstanding idea.
“Trains have longed for an update for too long. If everything goes as planned hopefully we will have a much more time and energy efficient way of transportation. The technology is truly cutting edge.”
The challenge calls for college students to create teams of about 100. The teams will then work to present a half-scale model to SpaceX, outlining the designs pros, cons, safety features, subsystems, and pricing. The winning team gets to meet Elon Musk and bring its idea to life.
Social studies teacher Mr. Sanborn says there are multiple reasons for Musk’s outsourcing the project rather than working on with a pre-existing team of engineers.
“He is going to get a large number of unique designs for the pod, as it is a great opportunity for the students. Some may be awful and others creative and helpful. I suppose he wants to be open to ideas that may be better than those that he and his team can create,” said Sanborn.
He added that the competition serves as a central marketing tool as well as a cost-cutter for the Hyperloop project.
“SpaceX won’t have to spend much time nor money on this piece of the project as it is getting done by college students, so they can allot their time to more intricate necessities,” said Sanborn.
The students within each team are absorbing a professional experience that usually is not offered in the traditional college curriculum. Engineering students of all concentrations are collaborating with economics and business majors to perfect the models.
Junior Jack Lesser says the competition is a great opportunity for all involved on the project.
“The engineers are learning what it takes to bring an idea to life while more business-oriented students learn what it takes to manage a real-life project. Everyone is experiencing hands-on collaboration in a group that matches what they will probably see in the workplace after college.”
“Musk is preparing thousands of students for the outside world with the competition” added Lesser.