The purpose of this journey was to take part in the second Hyperloop competition hosted by SpaceX in Los Angeles. The idea behind the competition was for our team, HypED, and other teams from around the world to test our cutting-edge pods in the vacuum tube SpaceX had been constructing.
The competition was buzzing with unique designs, revolutionary ideas and inspirational people. We could talk with teams from all corners of the globe including; Poland, America, Spain, and even a team who had met on reddit. Each team offered and new way of thinking about the Hyperloop technology which inspired us as a team to analyse the current design of our pod, and how to improve it for the next competition.
The trip involved a lot of manufacturing, made difficult in the 30-40 degree heat, however this provided a great opportunity for team bonding. The many aspects of scrutiny that our pod was subjected to meant I gained a lot of valuable insight into mechanical and structural design of high-performance vehicles, ranging from the aerodynamics of the bodywork, to the nuts and bolts that hold it together. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to learn from the SpaceX engineers, each of whom is formidable in their area of expertise, as the opportunity to communicate with real-world engineers is scarce in most university courses.
Alongside this, we as a team could view the SpaceX facilities, and even see the thruster of the Falcon 9 rocket, parked outside their headquarters.
I was initially worried about travelling around Los Angeles, and finding my feet during my short stay. Flying in, I saw a sprawling metropolis of cars and concrete which didn’t help this sense of unease. Luckily, after driving for a few hours, the layout of the roads became easy to navigate and it didn’t take too long to reach our appointments. However, I was rather disappointed that the only means of effectively getting around was to drive, as this left members of the team who could not drive reliant on others.
This was also a great opportunity for me to visit an area of the world I have never been to. Aside from the competition, I could soak up some of the most glamorous of American culture, experiencing the famous beaches of California, as well as the Hollywood hills.
All in all, this trip offered the opportunity of an amazing combination of technical engineering, sightseeing, and making new friends that I would jump on again at a moment’s notice.