SJSU Students Build Hyperloop Prototype

Academic leaders and industry partners talk with members of SJSU's Spartan Hyperloop team at the Innovation Design Collaborative at San Jose State on Friday, June, 8, 2018. (James Tensuan/San Jose State University)

Academic leaders and industry partners talk with members of SJSU’s Spartan Hyperloop team at the Innovation Design Collaborative at San Jose State on Friday, June, 8, 2018. (James Tensuan/San Jose State University)

By David Goll

Visionaries view a futuristic tube containing capsules, or “pods,” speeding passengers more than 700 miles per hour between the Bay Area and Los Angeles in about a half hour as one way to help ease the Golden State’s congested roadways.

And engineers of the future studying today at San Jose State University want to play a big part in moving what is called “hyperloop” technology from design and testing phases into reality. They are looking for solutions for one of the world’s busiest travel corridors in the nation’s most-populous state, boasting the world’s fifth-largest economy.

“In general, there has been a lack of innovation in the transportation sector,” said Ali-Imran Tayeb, who earned bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Physics in December from SJSU. “The cars, planes and boats keep getting better, but we haven’t seen new forms of transportation systems. We learned a lot from the (2018 Hyperloop Pod) competition. There’s such a strong need for this type of travel.”

Tayeb co-founded the Spartan Hyperloop project three years ago and leads its Mechanical team. In July, he was among a team of 20 SJSU undergraduates and recent graduates who took their Spartan Hyperloop magnetic levitation creation to participate in the 2018 Hyperloop Pod competition sponsored by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX. Headquartered in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne, SpaceX is most known for its space-exploration technology and rocket launches. It was founded and is led by Elon Musk, also the high-profile CEO and co-founder of the Fremont-based upscale electric car manufacturer, Tesla Inc.

This version of Spartan Hyperloop — a 6-1/2-foot long, 2-1/2-foot wide, 2-foot high, 320-pound creation composed of an aluminum frame, battery packs and high-speed spinning magnets among other elements — was built to half the scale of the SUV-sized vehicle envisioned to transport passengers and cargo. Design of the SJSU project beat out 100 other entries from universities worldwide, making SJSU one of only two teams to qualify for the SpaceX competition in the levitation category. Unfortunately, a technical failure on the road disqualified the team from competing against the other qualifying team, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Thomas Baker, an SJSU senior majoring in Electrical Engineering who heads up the Spartan Hyperloop Electrical team, said mechanical problems affected the prototype, but work will continue to perfect Spartan Hyperloop.

Baker said a perfected Spartan Hyperloop design would operate by taking advantage of the low-friction environment of the tube to generate enough speed to cause levitation.

He said the SJSU team has had up to 60 members. Funding for the project came mostly from the university and corporate sponsors, but $2,200 was also raised through a Crowdfunding campaign supported by University Advancement, Baker said.

“We’ve worked really hard to get students from all of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) disciplines involved, as well as business and marketing,” Baker said.

SJSU has participated in all three years of the SpaceX competition, he said, having previously been a runner-up in design, before building Spartan Hyperloop this year.

Musk’s initial Hyperloop concept, introduced in 2012, included reduced-pressure tubes providing pathways for pressured capsules propelled by linear induction motors and axial compressors riding on air bearings. A proposed 350-mile route connecting California’s two-largest population and business centers would roughly parallel Interstate 5 through the Central Valley. Another of Musk’s companies, The Boring Co., has also proposed smaller-scale projects in Los Angeles, Chicago, the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area, with a possible extension to New York.

One study put the cost of building the Bay Area-to-Los Angeles Hyperloop connection at $6 billion for a passengers-only option and $7.5 billion for a larger tube that would carry both people and vehicles. Plans to build a high-speed rail line, already under construction in the San Joaquin Valley, are now estimated to cost $77 billion to connect the Bay Area to Los Angeles, and up to $98 billion to complete the full 800-mile system.

Baker considers the Hyperloop system – still on the drawing boards — a better deal.

“I have reservations about high-speed rail, which is using older technology and requires lots of infrastructure costs,” he said, noting contrasts in cost and environmental impacts. “We would be able to line (the tube) with solar panels and use the resulting energy for local communities along the line or give back to the grid.”

SJSU Celebrates Innovation Design Collaborative with Partners

By Melissa Anderson

On June 8, in the basement of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, students, educators and industry leaders mingled together at the soft launch of San Jose State University’s new Innovation Design Collaborative.

The lower level of the library, which houses the first public materials library as well as shelves of periodicals, is now home to a new interdisciplinary innovation space for students and faculty to work together, and test out ideas.

“A few weeks ago, you would have seen a very different space,” said Paul Lanning, vice president for University Advancement. “This is just the start and we are excited to unveil it for all of you. This is a glimpse of what is to come, not just for San Jose State University, but all the representatives here. This is an interdisciplinary space to work together on every type of unit imaginable.”

The IDC started several years ago when representatives from the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering connected with a handful of industry partners to discuss ways the university could better prepare students to meet evolving workforce needs. The group grew to include more than 30 industry and educational partners from off campus as well as campus representatives from each college. Now in addition to the advisory group, the university also has a dedicated space for students and faculty to work together to incubate ideas and gain just the type of experience needed to succeed in Silicon Valley after graduation.

During the event, teams of students and recent graduates showcased prototypes of products that are close to launching or ready for national competition. The teams included representatives from different degree programs and colleges who have grappled with technical development, legal questions and marketing.

One team was on the verge of launching a beta version of a digital jukebox that will allow multiple users to develop playlists at gatherings that include songs that appeal to the group – unlike existing music applications that are controlled by individuals.

Another team created an application called Gratis Food that will connect food vendors with excess products to students with food insecurities. The team, which won best overall innovation at SJSU’s Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge and were selected to participate in ZinnStarter through SJSU’s IDEAS program, moved from a nonprofit to a profit model that will be more easily scalable.

“We’ve created a beta version and we plan to expand to community colleges and universities,” said Raghav Gupta, founder and project manager of Gratis Food.

The final team demonstrated Spartan Hyperloop, a magnetic levitation system that they have entered into the SpaceX 2018 Hyperloop Pod Competition, on July 22.

After the networking hour and lunch, President Mary Papazian welcomed the more than 30 industry and educational partners who attended the event, including Joe Pinto, senior VP Technical Services at Cisco Systems, Donna Bell, director of Ford Innovation Research and Innovation Labs, Mark Roenigk, head of hardware at Facebook, Jennifer Andaluz, the co-founder and executive director of Downtown College Prep, and Andrea Schwarz, founding Bay Area executive director of Braven.

“One of the wonderful things about today is that our various programs across the campus are represented and that is where a lot of the magic happens,” Papazian said. “San Jose State University is a place to innovate as evidenced by the Paseo Public Prototyping Challenge and Festival and the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge, our excellent interdisciplinary academic programs, and the high rate at which our graduates are hired in the Bay Area.”

Pinto, of Cisco, said the IDC is an opportunity for SJSU to play a different role than just supplying talent.

“Silicon Valley is unique with intellectual property, venture funding and a group of universities in an area that people from around the world want to come to innovate and design,” he said. “We are strengthening the ecosystem.”

Dean Sheryl Ehrman, of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, spoke about how important collaboration across disciplines is in grounding innovation with the critical thinking that comes from “cross pollination” with others in the humanities, applied health sciences, business or other perspectives.

While SJSU has a vision for an innovation wing that will become part of a science and innovation complex on campus, the library space is helping to increase capacity for interdisciplinary learning immediately.

“Why are we in the library?” asked University Library Dean Tracy Elliott. “This is where multidisciplinary work happens—the university, the community, all of you use the space. We have all disciplines represented throughout the building.”

CS Professor Recognized for Educational Contributions to Computing

Python for Everyone book cover.

Python for Everyone book cover.

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) named San Jose State University’s Cay S. Horstmann as a distinguished member for educational contributions to computing. A computer science professor in the College of Science, Horstmann has written several books that are used in introductory computer science courses including Big Java, Big C++, Python for Everyone and others. His books for professional programmers include Core Java and Scala for the Impatient and are also well regarded.

In addition to his publications, Horstmann has been a long-time member of the College Board AP Computer Science development committee and has been an associate editor of the ACM Transactions on Computing Education. He developed a Udacity/SJSU course that is still used by many AP CS instructors and created educational software including Violet, GridWorld and Codecheck that he has made freely available to the community.

“I was very happy to have received this recognition,” Horstmann said. “I have worked on computer science education for many years and am glad that our professional society considers me to have ‘achieved significant accomplishments.’”

Department Chair of Computer Science Sami Khuri noted that Horstmann’s books are used around the world, and that he has participated in educational panels and given international talks.

“We, the Department of Computer Science, are extremely honored and proud to have one of our own get such a distinguished recognition,” Khuri said. “ACM is the best-regarded society for Computer Science and they are extremely selective with their awards/recognitions.”

Horstmann noted that SJSU has supported his efforts and allowed him to build up a portfolio of accomplishments over the years. Horstmann participated in the first cohort of the University Grants Academy in 2015-16. He said one of the key things he appreciated about the grant academy was the opportunity to learn about other research interests on campus.

“It put us together with other people – otherwise you are a lone player,” he said, noting that he connected with other professors with whom he could collaborate in the future.

The CS professor is one of five 2017 ACM Distinguished Members recognized for educational contributions to computing this year, with 43 total members recognized in all arenas including engineering and scientific contributions to computing.

“Computing technology is becoming an increasingly dominant force in our daily lives and is transforming society at every level,” said ACM President Vicki L. Hanson. “In naming a new roster of Distinguished Members each year, ACM underscores that the innovations which improve our lives do not come about by accident, but rather are the result of the hard work, inspiration and creativity of leading professionals in the field. We honor the 2017 class of ACM Distinguished Members for the essential role their accomplishments play in how we live and work.”

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery www.acm.orgis the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.

Paseo Prototype Challenge Teams Solve Civic Issues

By Barry Zepel

Last year, 16 teams of creative and imaginative students showcased their technological solutions for many of their city’s most pressing issues – including downtown safety, traffic congestion, homelessness, and support of local small business entrepreneurs – at the Paseo Public Prototyping Festival in downtown San Jose in April. In preparation for the festival, students majoring in art, design, engineering, business and the sciences spent months in collaboration with fellow team members to develop and refine their proposed solutions for improving quality of life in San Jose.

In September 2016, SJSU in collaboration with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the City of San José, Intel, Microsoft and Autodesk – launched the Paseo Public Prototyping Challenge and Festival. The Challenge and Festival will be held every two years, pending funding.

“San José State University students are making a difference through their creative and technical talents,” said Gary Craig Hobbs, faculty director of the Paseo Prototyping Challenge and Festival. “The festival is the culmination of a year-long civic innovation challenge designed to incubate solutions to pressing social and environmental problems in San Jose.”

The 2016-17 student teams were selected by a competitive review process headed by university faculty members, as well as industry professionals, shared prototypes that included:

  • A skateboard modified to generate electricity that can be used to charge a cell phone or power a headlight for the board to be safer at night;
  • An app to better control city traffic and enhance access to public transportation;
  • Devices to collect solar energy during the day in order to light up pedestrian walkways at night;
  • A social app enabling residents to follow the actions of their local government, while communicating with it to access services and report problems;
  • An inventory-tracking module to help local food entrepreneurs provide fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods to city residents;
  • An app to help drivers more efficiently locate available parking spaces near their downtown destinations, while eliminating excess traffic jams;
  • A collaborative educational game that encourages learning and offersfirst-hand experience, while keeping students continuously engaged; and
  • An app that helps individuals with niche interests and hobbies find other like-minded persons as well as events and organizations related to those pursuits.

SJSU Faculty, Staff and Students Participate in the Academic Technology Expo (ATXpo) at Stanford University

On Oct. 2, San Jose State University faculty, staff and students joined colleagues from Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, UC San Francisco, University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, Santa Clara University and Saint Mary’s College of California at the Academic Technology Expo. The event provided a forum to share, discuss and promote effective practices for teaching and learning with technology. The Expo included a series of IdeaLab sessions and a student panel. The IdeaLab is a unique interactive session where presenters showcase practices, projects and technologies that are improving teaching and learning at participating institutions. Each presentation focused on a central teaching and learning challenge and how their solution might be adopted by other participants.

IdeaLab sessions included topics such as virtual reality, open education resources, writing activities, and student-centered approaches to communication, metacognition, and assessment that are enhanced by technology with eight teams of SJSU affiliates presenting throughout the day.

List of SJSU Presentations:

Presenters: David W. Parent

Presenters: Resa Kelly, Yingjie Liu

Presenters: Debra Caires, Isadora McCullough, Andrea Ulloa

Presenters: Marilyn Easter, Prabha Chandrasekar, Bobbi Makani

Presenters: Bryan Dang, Jeland Palicte, Colleen O’Leary-Kelley, Minh Tran

Presenters: Tianqin Shi, Jennifer Redd, Yingjie Liu

Presenters: Karin Jeffery, Ph.D., Emily Wughalter, Ed.D., Bethany Winslow

Presenters: Linda M. Dunn-Jensen, Prabha Chandrasekar

Additionally, Alora Frederick, Marketing ’18 with a minor in advertising, joined students from other participating campuses on a student panel. The discussion focused on teaching methods and tools used in courses. The panel provided an opportunity for students to share their experiences, thoughts and opinions on using different methods and tools.

For additional information about the event, visit the ATXpo website. For questions or for those interested in participating next year, please contact Jennifer Redd.