Sacramento State is making history as one of 24 universities from around the world in the 2017 SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition II.

Billionaire engineer and inventor Elon Musk (Tesla, SolarCity) has challenged students to design and build prototype half-scale Hyperloop pods, which are high-speed “terrestrial transportation” vehicles for people and freight. Teams will race their pods in August on a mile-long test track at Musk’s SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne.

Hyperloop team

Hyperloop modelThe Hornet Hyperloop team (top) with a cutaway view of its design for a high-speed “terrestrial transportation” vehicle.

Sac State’s Hornet Hyperloop, a team of 56 engineering and business majors, began working on its design last June. The vehicle will be 13 feet long and made of aircraft-grade materials. It will travel at more than 200 mph with a life-size dummy on board.

“We have passed through all of the design phases – on each one, many teams get cut – to be one of the 24 in the world allowed to take pods to SpaceX,” says Paul Orozco, team captain and a mechanical engineering major who graduates in May. “We are starting the procurement of materials for the pod.”

Team members need to raise a minimum of $60,000 to build, test, and run their pod.

They will construct the craft over the summer and unveil it publicly in Sacramento sometime in August. Then they’re off to Southern California for the 2017 SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition II, Aug. 25-27 – and a high-speed run on SpaceX’s track.

They’ll go up against teams from 23 other universities, including Princeton, Purdue, Virginia Tech, Technical University of Munich (Germany), and BITS Pilani (India).

“We are extremely excited to be a part of this prestigious competition and to be among the best engineering schools in the world,” Orozco says. “It’s amazing that industry may take our design into consideration for implementation.

“We have suggestions for changes to the design that will make it go faster and be more efficient. This year was pretty heavy on the mechanical side, but next year, we will more heavily integrate the electrical and controls sides. Sometimes I think of all that can be done down the line to ensure this team will continue to grow and make great pods.”

Lorenzo Smith, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, isn’t surprised by what the Hornet Hyperloop team already has accomplished.

“Not only are these students rock-solid in their understanding of engineering principles, but they are battle-tested, creative, and fearless,” he says. – Dixie Reid

In the media:

“Hornet Hyperloop in final round of Elon Musk’s SpaceX competition,” The State Hornet

“Sac State’s ‘Hornet Hyperloop’ makes the cut in Tesla SpaceX contest,” The Sacramento Bee

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