by Staff Writers
College Station TX (SPX) Feb 18, 2016
A team comprised of primarily COD Engineering students recently competed alongside more than 120 engineering teams from across the globe in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition held at Texas A and M University.
"The fact that our students were invited by cutting-edge technological companies to compete with prestigious four-year universities from around the world speaks volumes about the quality and ambition of our students, as well as the ability of our programs to encourage students to apply to the real-world the knowledge and skills they are gaining in the classroom," said Scott Banjavcic, COD Assistant Engineering Professor.
One of only 124 teams chosen from 1,700 entrants to participate in the second phase of the competition, the team included COD students and professional engineers Adeel Alam (Chicago), Lamis Awdi (Lebanon), Billy and Jake Bonk (Countryside), Maggie Embree (Arlington Heights), Valentina Guarino (Addison), Donald Krambeck (Homer Glen), Jakub Lewandowski (Wood Dale), Jonathan Oakley (Naperville), Joseph Refugio (Villa Park), Suman Sherwani (Naperville), Joseph Stanek (Aurora), and Elvin Thorat (Woodridge). Team members Awdi, Krambeck, Lewandowski, Oakley, Sherwani and Stanek represented the team at Texas A and M.
The Hyperloop is a conceptual high-speed transportation system put forward by Tesla Motors owner and technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, incorporating reduced-pressure tubes in which pressurized capsules ride on an air cushion driven by linear induction motors and air compressors.
Team captain Sherwani, who is enrolled in the Engineering program at COD and plans to transfer to a four-year university in the fall, said she is proud of the team's performance at the competition.
"The judges had very nice things to say about our designs and it was really cool to meet and share ideas with students from more than 16 countries around the world," she said. "We also spoke with and received advice from leading engineers at SpaceX and Tesla. This was a tough project and I'm really proud of how our team handled the stress."
In addition to attending COD, Sherwani currently works as a product specialist at Tesla and hopes to enroll in an aerospace engineering program and work toward her goal of becoming an astronaut. She said the team's design received positive attention from the judges and other teams at the competition.
"One thing that made our design unique was our focus on ergonomics," Sherwani said. "We wanted to make sure that passengers were as comfortable and safe as possible. While our pod design did not advance, we were advised by SpaceX and Hyperloop engineers to collaborate with one of the advancing teams. We have received interest from several universities and are currently in the process of deciding which advancing team to collaborate with in further stages of this competition. We also plan on patenting our seat design."
Team member Krambeck, a COD Computer Engineering student, noted several highlights from the competition.
"It was great to receive input from teams from around the world about their designs and how they approached the same problems we had," Krambeck said. "It was also incredible to see how much attention our design received from those same teams. In addition, it was amazing to just be in the same room with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Elon Musk."
Both Krambeck and Sherwani said the competition provided a wonderful educational experience.
"I learned that teamwork is extremely essential in the engineering field," Krambeck said. "I believe we performed very well as a team. We received recognition from several four-year university teams for the extensive detail that went into our design. I also learned that anything is possible if you put enough hard work and determination into it. This was something that was almost dream-like to our whole team; the whole time we were saying we could still not believe we're in Texas about to present in front of SpaceX and Tesla engineers."
Sherwani said participating in the competition provided an experience beyond classroom learning.
"Every single person had something unique to bring to the table," she said. "Some of us were good at calculations and others at drawing and making digital renderings. Stepping out of our comfort zones helped us grow as people and I truly believe we have all become better people since starting this project."
Krambeck, who plans to earn both her bachelor's and master's degrees after completing an A.E.S. in Computer Science at COD, said while the team members discovered the competition and initiated the project themselves, they received substantial support from their COD instructors and College staff.
"This project demonstrated that there is huge faculty and staff support behind us," Krambeck said. "This isn't just a community college that wants to teach and leave it at that. Everyone took time out of their schedules to help us prepare our presentation and help us get down to the design competition weekend."
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