In 2013, Elon Musk announced the concept of a “5th mode of transportation,” the hyperloop. In 2015, Musk decided that the best way reach some of the sharpest young minds in the world, would be to host an international competition with SpaceX, where students could submit prototypes for subsystems or the Hyperloop pod itself.
What is a Hyperloop?
A Hyperloop is a pod, similar in shape to a subway tram, that travels through a low pressure, almost vacuum-like tube. With no friction or air resistance, the pod can move at speeds up to 700 MPH and allows riders to travel from place to place in a small fraction of the standard amount of time. The machine uses a linear induction motor for propulsion and a combination of magnets, wheels and air bearings to allow it to levitate in the tube.
But, trying to come to a complete stop after traveling at such high speeds requires specialized technology, and that’s where the Ryerson team found their inspiration.
The team set out to make a deployable wheel system similar to what you would find on an airplane, but able to withstand all weather conditions and natural disasters. The small team of six students, five advisors and 20 sponsors went to work to get the job done.
Just one system alone carried 260 standard parts and out of those parts, 120 had to meet National Aerospace Standards and could be found through the Aerospace Industries Association database. That covers nearly 58 percent of the parts used in one unit.
Through IHS Markit and CADENAS PARTsolutions Strategic Parts Management tools, the Ryerson team had access to a complete digital database of NAS AIA parts, which gave them a competitive edge over larger teams. The Ryerson crew spent less time designing standard parts and had more time to focus on the successful creation of their deployable wheel system.
Since the team had access to such a large database of parts, their design process was more streamlined and they worked more efficiently. These advantages gave them the ability to create five complete units in just one year and helped them bring home the Subsystem Innovation Award in 2016.
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