Thanks to the Principal’s Go Abroad Fund, I was able to travel to Los Angeles, California. I went to The States in July as part of team HYPED, the Universities Hyperloop Team, where we competed in the 3rd annual SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. The team is made up of 30 or so members from multiple schools within the University, all with the same aim, to compete against some of the best universities in the world, and hopefully beat them. In the competition there is only one criterion, the fastest pod wins.
We built our second pod, known as Poddy 2, over exams and the start of summer, we then shipped it to California at the start of July. Once we arrived, a lot of work went into assembling and testing the machine, in fact, a whole week of assembly and another 5 days of testing was what made up most of our time in LA. To make it into the mile-long vacuum test track, each team has to pass approximately 110 tests. HYPED managed to pass a considerable amount of the tests, being admitted to continuing work into the final weekend with a chance to get into the tube and compete. We were now in the top 6 teams beating another 18 very good universities, this doesn’t include the hundreds of teams that didn’t make it to California.
Unfortunately, at this point, our story takes a turn for the worse. Despite several efforts, we struggled to get all of our multiple systems working simultaneously and accurately. As we could not demonstrate effective control of our systems, we could not pass the final tests and this is where our journey ended. Team WARR from the technical university of Munich won the competition, achieving a top speed of 290mph, which is pretty quick.
I learned a lot with HYPED, not just in California but also in Edinburgh, about technical aspects but also about myself. In Cali, the team was pushed to the limit, motivated by the competition and the desire to do our best. This did mean a few stressful moments, late nights and early mornings. I learned that I can do a lot more than I think I can, as long as I put my mind to it, stay surrounded by like-minded and motivated people and try and have fun along the way. Having said all that, I would do it all over again and I hope to do so this coming year to show SpaceX that HYPED and Edinburgh can compete on the main stage alongside other great universities.
It wasn’t all work, I did manage to sneak in a few days after the competition to see some of the sights in LA. I went to the Jet Propulsion Lab and the Griffiths Observatory, as I am a bit of a space geek. I also managed to get a day in at Universal Studios, which I would highly recommend if you ever go to LA.