The SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition: Growing the Next Generation of Electronics Designers

September 1, 2017 Judy Warner



In 2013, when Elon Musk unveiled the concept of the Hyperloop as a future form of transportation, he immediately challenged private industry and universities from around the world to develop the technology and pods. (After all, he has his hands full these days!)


Since that time, SpaceX has hosted two Hyperloop pod competitions consisting of university teams at their headquarters in Torrance, CA. These events afford three lucky teams the chance to earn an opportunity to run their pods inside the near-mile vacuum tube built by SpaceX. About two dozen teams participated in each competition. The high visibility of SpaceX and Musk draws not only talent to the competition, but a wide range of impressive sponsors such as HP and Air Bus, and many of the world’s largest media outlets.


The first event was held in late January, 2017 and the other was just last Sunday on August 27, 2017. Altium participated in the event, sponsoring several Hyperloop pod teams by providing its flagship software, Altium Designer, which is a professional printed circuit board (PCB) design software. For this reason, I was invited to attend Sunday’s competition as the guest of The University of Wisconsin-Madison Badgerloop team--a group predominantly consisting of undergraduates who keep delivering impressive results.


We are proud to contribute in a small way, but the truth is this competition is much bigger than any one company or team’s contribution. Looking around at all the pods, which are covered with sponsor logos, it becomes clear that these teams could not exist without the strong sponsor base and it is the whole community coming together that made this event so impactful. Companies, universities and most importantly talented and passionate young electronics designers came together in co-opetition to achieve something that has never been done before.


As they say, a picture (or in this case, a video) is worth a thousand words. So take a look at the video we captured at SpaceX’s Hyperloop competition...then, thank heaven for the contagious passion of this next generation of innovators who are poised to change our world. Though these teams are so grateful for sponsors, at Altium we feel like the lucky ones!

About the Author

Judy Warner

Judy Warner has held a unique variety of roles in the electronics industry since 1984. She has a deep background in PCB Manufacturing, RF and Microwave PCBs and Contract Manufacturing with a focus on Mil/Aero applications in technical sales and marketing. She has been a blogger, writer, contributor and journalist for several industry publications such as Microwave Journal, The PCB Magazine, The PCB Design Magazine, PDCF&A and IEEE Microwave Magazine and is an active member of multiple IPC Designers Council chapters. In March 2017, Warner became the Director of Community Engagement for Altium and was immediately tasked with the launch of Altium’s monthly On Track Newsletter. She was also instrumental in launching AltiumLive 2017: Annual PCB Design Summit in San Diego and Munich, a newly founded annual Altium User Conference. Her passion is providing resources, supporting and advocating for PCB Designers around the world and acting as brand ambassador for Altium.

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