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.”

Celebrate Student Research April 17

San Jose State University’s Office of Research and Research Foundation will host the 39th Annual Student Research Forum April 17, from noon to 2 p.m. in the Dr. Marthin Luther King Jr. Library, Room 225.

The event is an opportunity to congratulate the outstanding SJSU Student Research Competition finalists who will be representing the university the CSU-wide competition May 4 and 5, at CSU, Sacramento. The event will include an awards ceremony recognizing the students and their faculty mentors, followed by a reception and poster session.

The following SJSU Research Competition finalists will go on to represent San José State University at the 2018 CSU Student Research Competition May 4, 2018, and May 5, 2018, at California State University, Sacramento:

Israel Juarez Contreras – Chemical Engineering
Kelly Cricchio – Art History
Vijay Lalith Cuppala – Mechanical Engineering
Unnikrishnan Sreekumar, Revathy Devaraj, Qi Li – Computer Engineering and Software Engineering
Simon Jarrar – Applied Anthropology
Vandana Kannan – Computer Science
Khiem Pham – Computer Science
Jeffrey Tseng – Economics

Please RSVP no later than Monday, April 9, 2018, to foundation-osp-infoservices@sjsu.edu

February 2018 Newsletter: Video – Engineering Dean Sheryl Ehrman’s Flu Study Gains National Coverage

Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering Dean Sheryl Ehrman’s study of how the flu virus is spread gained national media coverage in January with at least 10 news outlets reporting on the findings that the virus can be spread just by breathing. The coverage of her work included mentions in the San Jose Mercury News, the New York Timesand multiple radio and TV news outlets. In the video above, Ehrman discusses the study with ABC 7 News reporters at the height of flu season. Ehrman said the study was launched at the University of Maryland during the flu season of December 2012 through March 2013. The findings were recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Join Your Colleagues to Begin the Next Steps in Our Strategic Planning Process on Feb. 9

Editor’s Note: This message was sent to all faculty and staff on Jan. 22, 2019.

Dear Colleagues,

Last fall, SJSU began a strategic planning initiative that will culminate in a strategic blueprint to guide us in our journey through the next decade. Students, faculty and staff joined together in this critical work by participating in a series of Campus Conversations last fall.

We will be launching the next phase of strategic planning on February 9 at 11:30am with a campus forum in the Diaz-Compean Student Union Ballroom.

At the February 9 event, the campus community will hear from President Papazian and the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, who will outline the steps we have taken so far and present five draft goals.

Immediately after this presentation, we will be hosting lunch and a Campus Conversation.  All attendees will discuss what ideas might be added or better explained in the draft goals and what action items might arise from the goals. Click here to RSVP for the lunch and visit sjsu.edu/strategicplan for updates on the process.

Thank you,

Andy Feinstein
Co-Chair, Strategic Planning Steering Committee
Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Stefan Frazier
Co-Chair, Strategic Planning Advisory Committee
Chair of the Academic Senate

Engineering Professor Co-Authors Article in ‘Biophysical Journal’

Dr. Amit Saha

Dr. Amit Saha

Dr. Amit Saha, a lecturer and research scientist in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, has co-authored an article that has been published in the Biophysical Journal, which is a leading topical journal in the field of biomechanics and biophysics. Entitled, “Cholesterol Regulates Monocyte Rolling through CD44 Distribution,” the interdisciplinary publication includes contributions from other researchers, namely Dr. Pawel Osmulski, Dr. Shatha F. Dallow, Dr. Maria Gaczynska, Dr. Tim H. Huang and Dr. Anand K. Ramasubramanian. The researchers undertook this study as part of a National Institutes of Health grant focused on discovering the contributions of bacterial infections to heart disease.

According to Saha, atherosclerosis, which may lead to heart attack and stroke, is the thickening of blood vessel walls due to the accumulation of ‘fatty’ cells or foam cells. The foam cells are formed when a certain type of white blood cells called monocytes enter the blood vessel wall, get stuck, and take up a lot of cholesterol. As it can be imagined, the first step of this process, namely the ’touch down’ of monocytes from flowing blood to vessel wall, is extremely crucial. The efficient capture of fast moving monocytes is brought about by interactions between proteins on the surface of the monocytes and on the surface of endothelial cells on blood vessel wall.

“In this research, we have shown that cholesterol levels on monocytes can redistribute the proteins mediating the interaction, thus providing efficient brakes,” he said.

The study shows that cholesterol, a well-known cause of atherosclerosis (a thickening of blood vessels walls due to the accumulation of ‘fatty cells’ that may lead to heart attack or stroke), can significantly influence the disease initiation and progression by a mechanism that was not focused on previously. The results demonstrate that chemicals can change the course of biological phenomena by altering the underlying physics.

Read the article online.