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Hyperloop at VCU unveils completed competition pod

Hyperloop at VCU is one of 20 teams internationally to advance to the SpaceX Hyperloop finals Jul...
Hyperloop at VCU is one of 20 teams internationally to advance to the SpaceX Hyperloop finals July 22 in Hawthorne, California. (Photo by Dan Wagner, VCU College of Engineering)

A Virginia Commonwealth University student team — part of an elite group of 20 teams selected internationally to advance to the final round of the 2018 SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition this summer — today unveiled its fully constructed pod vehicle to the Richmond community.  

The competition challenges university teams to design and build the best transport pod for Hyperloop, a high-speed ground transport concept by SpaceX founder Elon Musk. The primary criterion is achieving maximum speed with the self-propelled vehicle.

Hyperloop at VCU comprises more than 40 students in the fields of engineering, business, arts and humanities and sciences. Students built the 69-by-23-by-22-inch pod at Build, RVA ­— a community makerspace and product incubator — working mostly at night to accommodate jobs and internships.

“I am so proud of our students, who give us a glimpse into the future of transportation for materials and people, all at higher speeds than we can imagine,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “And this is no surprise. At VCU, we’re used to doing what seems impossible to others, to tackling the problems that will move humanity forward. They represent us well and personify our greatest commitment to tackle social problems and advance the social good.”

Hyperloop at VCU

Hyperloop at VCU is part of the Vertically Integrated Projects program within the College of Engineering. The VIP program provides undergraduate students the opportunity to participate in multiyear, multidisciplinary, team-based projects under the guidance of faculty and graduate students in their areas of expertise. It enables the completion of large-scale design projects that are of significant benefit to associated research programs.

“The VIP program gives students at all stages of their education the opportunity to learn to mentor as well as to solve complex problems that require a transdisciplinary approach for their solution. The success of our HyperLoop team reflects the creativity and innovation that is the heart of VCU and shows the power of VIP experiential learning,” said Barbara Boyan, Ph.D., dean of the VCU College of Engineering and Alice T. and William H. Goodwin Jr. Chair.

Hyperloop at VCU is one of 20 teams internationally to advance to the SpaceX Hyperloop finals July 22 in Hawthorne, California. (Gallery photos by Alexandria Tayborn and Dan Wagner, VCU College of Engineering)
Click to view slideshow. Hyperloop at VCU is one of 20 teams internationally to advance to the SpaceX Hyperloop finals July 22 in Hawthorne, California. (Gallery photos by Alexandria Tayborn and Dan Wagner, VCU College of Engineering)

The frame of the VCU Hyperloop pod is sheet metal with a fiberglass shell optimized for minimal drag in high-speed applications. Internal components include electronic controls, mechanical components, propulsion systems, batteries and brake system. The pod’s calculated speed is more than 100 mph. It will be shipped to SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, for testing by early July. Teams whose pods pass safety and speed requirements during the testing week will race on July 22.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated the Hyperloop pod’s calculated speed would be more than 200 mph. It's calculated speed is more than 100 mph.

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 217 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Thirty-eight of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center and Level I trauma center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, MCV Physicians and Virginia Premier Health Plan. For more, please visit www.vcu.edu and vcuhealth.org.