As Colorado and other states face the challenges of increased population in cities from urbanization, traffic and morning commutes continue to get worse. Additionally, cars are the main contributor to greenhouse gases in the United States. What if there was a battery powered mode of transportation that allowed a person to travel from Denver to Fort Collins in just 9 minutes? Hyperloop systems, once thought to be a futuristic method of transportation, could make this possible much sooner than one would think.
Two years ago, the Colorado School of Mines formed the Diggerloop team and challenged students completing in their College of Engineering and Computational Sciences (CECS) capstone projects to design a Hyperloop pod. The team’s design first competed in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition last year. This year, the team and Faculty Advisor Dr. Kristine Csavina of the Mechanical Engineering department are challenged with preparing the pod design for testing in the 2018 competition.
Tyler Evans, a senior in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Electrical Engineeering and the Diggerloop Project Lead, explained the goals and purpose of the Diggerloop team.
“The Hyperloop project is an international competition for collegiate teams to build a high-speed pod that could potentially be used for future transportation,” said Evans. Many students believe that one of the greatest parts of CECS capstone projects is the opportunity for students to have an impact on fields of technology they are passionate about.
Evans stated, “I am excited to work with a great group of motivated seniors who are also excited to work on this project.”
Julia Creamer, a senior in Mechanical Engineering and the Chassis and Suspension Subsystem Lead for Diggerloop, spoke to the amount of resources that it takes to get a project like this to the competition level.
“Honestly, our team uses a lot of resources the school has to offer like labs in Brown Building, professors, machine shops and more,” Creamer explained. “We’re also in collaboration with Arizona State University where we will take the pod to test on their track in January.”
With such a collaborative project and the number of university teams trying to tackle it, there is hope the technology will continue to move forward. Since Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX is pushing for Hyperloop transportation, it is well on its way to being developed fully and brought to market.
“Compared to some of the other Senior Design projects, it looks like [we] are just making something for a competition,” Creamer said. However, she is excited to be working on the Hyperloop because the designs could be impactful in terms of how projects are tackled in the future and how pod design is approached when a Hyperloop is built on a larger scale.
The Diggerloop team will be a project to watch throughout the next year especially as it moves into the testing phase and to finally competing in August 2018. This team has a tremendous amount of passion and understands the huge impact its design could have on future transportation.
“I would say I am nervous about our accelerated timeline, but being nervous about it allows myself and the rest of the team to stay focused on the tasks that we need to accomplish,” Evans concluded.