Hyperloop Technologies expert to lecture during Purdue class on Hyperloop design

December 7, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A group of Purdue University students will participate in a SpaceX Hyperloop pod competition to help design test vehicles for a vacuum-tube transit system proposed by inventor and business magnate Elon Musk.

The students are taking a Hyperloop design class that will end on Thursday (Dec. 10) with a 5 p.m. public lecture in Fowler Hall by Josh Giegel, vice president of design and analysis for Hyperloop Technologies Inc. He also will meet with the Purdue design team.

The design course requires students to create a passenger capsule for the transportation system, which might travel at nearly the speed of sound in a vacuum tube.

"There are many design challenges to the introduction of such a transportation system," said Alina Alexeenko, an associate professor in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics who is one of the faculty members teaching the course.

Musk announced earlier this year that his company SpaceX would host the Hyperloop pod competition. The Purdue course is based on SpaceX's contest requirements, said Alexeenko, who specializes in fluid mechanics. Some of her research involves using the partial vacuum found in low-Earth orbit for potential applications as diverse as pharmaceutical manufacturing and miniature satellites, sensors and nanotechnology.

Students taking the course submitted a preliminary design and were then selected by SpaceX to participate in the first pod-design competition event in January. Student Paul Witsberger, who is team captain, said the team is interested in recruiting Purdue students from various disciplines including electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering and the Krannert School of Management. Interested students may inquire at hyperloop@purdue.edu.

In 2013 Musk released his concept for the Hyperloop system, a transportation tube that might whisk commuters from Los Angeles to San Francisco in just 30 minutes. The system would employ nearly an airless tunnel housing passenger capsules that would ride on cushions of air while being propelled at roughly the speed of sound - and at a cost far less than a proposed high-speed rail project

Having not patented the design, he encouraged others to step forward and take up this challenge through open source design and development.

Hyperloop Technologies could be one of the leading contenders to realize Hyperloop's "Kitty Hawk moment" in coming years when a full-scale pod may be propelled through a vacuum tube. The company has announced plans to develop a route between Los Angeles and Las Vegas and is pursuing the design and analysis of major elements of the Hyperloop system. 

Writer: Emil Venere, 765-494-4709, venere@purdue.edu 

Source: Alina Alexeenko, 765-496-1864, alexeenk@purdue.edu 

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