Press Release (ePRNews.com) - SYDNEY, Australia - Feb 14, 2016 - ide Group is excited to announce that it will be supporting the development of a Hyperloop transportation pod prototype designed by a team of students at Drexel University as part of the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition. ide Group’s contribution will provide funding and expertise to support the Drexel Hyperloop Team through to the final phase of the competition.
The worldwide competition is part of an initiative led by CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors and CEO/CTO of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), Elon Musk to develop a high-speed ground transportation system called the Hyperloop. Musk’s Hyperloop concept hopes to reduce the 1500km journey time between Greater Los Angeles Area to the San Francisco Bay Area to an incredible 30 minutes.
ide Group Product Development Manager, Marek Swoboda has been actively involved in guiding and mentoring the Drexel Hyperloop Team, witnessing the project blossom and evolve over the course of the competition. When asked what the experience had been like so far, Marek said “it makes me feel young again! I love the enthusiasm and new ideas. The thrill of competition with other universities from all over the world has been great”.
Made up of 87 students, The Drexel Hyperloop Team is one of 120 university teams from 16 countries that have been accepted into the competition. Recently winning 7th place overall at the SpaceX Hyperloop Design Weekend in Texas and recognised by SpaceX as the number one team using air bearings for levitation, the team has secured a spot to test their pod prototype on a purpose built test track at the final SpaceX Hyperloop Competition Weekend in June, 2016. While this comes as exciting news for the team, Marek explained “there’s still a long way to go”.
For Marek, stepping into a mentoring role on this project has been a rewarding journey, enabling him to draw on years of experience across the requirement, specification, verification and validation phases of product development. “My involvement started with explaining to the team the basic rules of good engineering design. Because the team had to address several completely different areas of expertise, my goal was to provide to the team leaders a consistent and uniform template for all subsystems involved” Marek explained. Marek has also played an important role transferring ide Group’s expertise in structured development processes, particularly how to incorporate multiple design reviews to catch potential problems early on. “Multiple design reviews with mentors and faculty members enabled really good feedback and a bird’s-eye view of the project for the students. It was really exiting to take part in those reviews” Marek said.
Yet in the beginning, Marek explained “It wasn’t easy for the students because the rules of the competition were very open ended.” By encouraging the team to ask questions and embrace complexity, Marek described how it was particularly rewarding to witness the team experience light bulb moments of clarity. “Since Drexel’s team decided to take part in the “Design and build” the big “aha moment” came when they realized what they needed to validate was in fact a several hundred pound vehicle” Marek said.
With a quarter of the final judging scores awarded to safety design, Marek will also continue mentoring the safety team across safety subsystems such as oxygen masks, safety belts and exploration studies for optimal body positions that can resist high accelerations and deceleration.
Like all new product development projects, it has been a wild rollercoaster ride for the Drexel Hyperloop team. “The biggest challenge for these young engineers has been the wide scope of the project and learning how to coordinate 80 plus people involved” Marek said. Yet even with juggling the immense complexity of the project, Marek said “The team had been managing it brilliantly”. “They have given me a lot of reasons to believe that they are going to succeed” he said. Reflecting on his involvement, Marek was also quick to point out “I have been very happy to help, but the true heroes are Drexel students. They took the initiative to start this team and have built a great design”. “My true excitement is that we, the old guard, enabled them with the tools to win their first battle. Kudos to them!”
ide Group wishes the Drexel Hyperloop Team the best of luck in the final phases of the competition.
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