A thousand miles away, HP is supporting a different set of students at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who are participating in the SpaceX Hyperloop Competition. Madison’s team, dubbed Badgerloop, is competing with university teams from around the world to build pods, or passenger vehicles, for Hyperloop, the proposed high-speed ground-transport system of serial entrepreneur Elon Musk.
In Madison, virtual reality played an unexpectedly large role, helping the team win one of the six awards doled out in the first round of the competition. To spotlight their entry, the team developed a virtual reality rendering of a Hyperloop station and pod. While wearing a VR headset, you could walk up to a virtual rendering of the pod and sit down in a real chair that simulated the effect of being inside the Badgerloop pod.
The force behind the VR move was Peter Procek who had been hooked on VR when visiting a Madison lab. When he joined the Badgerloop team, he grabbed the chance to build a VR platform. Procek emailed HP about the possibility of giving students who weren’t getting the experience they needed in the classroom the opportunity to explore these technologies. HP delivered, providing the team with three Z840 workstations. “It was amazing when they offered to give us this mind-blowing tech,” marvels Procek.
About a dozen students are now working with VR for Badgerloop. At the second round of competitions last August (where Badgerloop won another award for innovation for its propulsion design), Procek’s team demonstrated proofs of concept for using VR in engineering design prototyping. He expects his team’s VR projects, to keep spurring interest as the team gears up to participate in the final round of Hyplerloop competitions, scheduled for next summer.
“We created the platform and home for students to start exploring these technologies in ways they’re not getting in the classroom,” says Procek. One project at a time, students are cracking open a new world of possibilities for themselves and the rest of their schools.
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