Overwhelming support from the community, a shout-out from the prime minister and a chance to pick Elon Musk’s brain has left the uWinLoop team feeling charged and driven to compete again in next year’s SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition.
The team of University of Windsor and St. Clair College students made it to the final round of the international competition, but was not one of the four teams out of 21 to be selected to test its pod due to stringent safety requirements.
"Our team worked closely with SpaceX engineers leading up to the competition day,” says Solange Rennie, the team’s business lead. “We were provided with advice and guidance in order to continuously improve our pod, which we plan to utilize for next year’s competition.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commended uWinLoop along with two other Canadian teams on Twitter for their innovative work. The team also had a chance to speak with Elon Musk during competition day on July 21, 2019.
Hyperloop technology uses electric propulsion in a low-pressure tube to propel a pod above the track using magnetic levitation. The competition challenges students to build a functional, scaled-down, prototype that can propel at maximum speed and stop within 100 feet of the end of SpaceX’s vacuum test track.
Rennie says in addition to the critical advice given by SpaceX advisors, the team toured SpaceX and The Boring Company's headquarters and displayed its pod's technology during the competition showcase.
“Our booth gained lots of attention and curiosity, which was very validating, especially from championing teams who were impressed that this was our first year of competition,” she says.
Engineering Dean Dr. Mehrdad Saif attended the competition in Hawthorne, Calif. along with one of the team’s faculty advisors, Dr. Rashid Rashidzadeh and representatives of Advantage Engineering Inc., one of the team’s largest supporters.
“Even though UWinLoop was unable to race, I am proud of their achievements along this exciting journey,” Saif says. “They have learned valuable lessons in their first year in this competition and will go back and work on a re-design for next year competition. After all that is what engineering design is all about—iterative.”
The Windsor team raised more than $150,000 in donations, sponsorships, and in-kind contributions to fund the construction of its pod. Stefan Sing, uWinLoop’s president and founder, says they have already started working on next year's pod.
“We are also tracking all our lessons learned to make sure next year's team is as strong as possible,” Sing says. “The experience left our team extremely motivated for next year as we are all inspired by the amazing teams and technology being developed in this competition."