HYPED: A Student Engineer’s Perspective
There are many roles in HYPED. On paper, being a student member can consist of weekly (or more) team meetings, individual research and technical work, presentations, discussions, conferences, hands-on manufacturing, and company visits and communications. HYPED allows you to meet new friends, expand your network and explore the coolest parts of Engineering; exposing, in particular, younger members to Engineering ideas that would usually be introduced much later in their education. Furthermore, HYPED acts as a platform for students to build relationships with lecturers, academics, and technicians within the University, having enormous benefits; some students have conducted internships which have stemmed from their involvement in HYPED.
Our society is welcome to all disciplines. At a glance, members study Law, Business, Politics, Computer Science, Physics and all disciplines of Engineering. This diversity helps us to develop truly state of the art transport technology, with the end goal of improving people’s lives. Even though we placed the 6th in the 17/18 SpaceX competition, we are proud that throughout our involvement in the competition we were the only team focused on Hyperloop applicability; creating a comfortable space for a passenger, Dumminic, in our design for a pressurised passenger cabin.
The socio-economic impacts of the Hyperloop concept make HYPED a perfect example of the need for gender equality in Engineering. Only around 11% of Engineers in the UK are female, but this doesn’t just look bad on paper; Engineering in practice, like the Hyperloop, affects 100% of the population so it’s crucial not to neglect the insight of 50% of the population in developing it. The same percentages, unfortunately, hold for the HYPED Technical team, but we are doing our best to change this.
From the perspective of women in Engineering, there can be difficulties maintaining confidence in a male-dominated environment. On top of this, picturing success is a tricky task in a discipline seriously lacking in role models of your gender. HYPED tackles this by uniting students. It is a home for the drive, ambition and pride that members take in their work, and that dominates any worries of feeling out of place due to being part of a minority. Especially when role models for Engineering students are often older, more experienced Engineering students; HYPED creates exciting opportunities for women to become their own role models and inspire the next generation of female members of HYPED’s technical team.
HYPED conjures an image of Engineering as a dynamic, inclusive and relevant topic that is something to be proud of and screams “here is your opportunity to make a difference in the world!”; a message direly needed to be delivered to the community of young female students considering Engineering. We strive to project this image, particularly this year, when we introduced the Women in HYPED series and planned an outreach programme to be delivered September 2018. These projects involve sharing the stories of HYPED female members to our social media platforms, and creating fun projects to engage school children in ideas of the physics behind a Hyperloop.
Finding a balance between HYPED work and keeping up good academic performance at University can be one of the most challenging aspects for members, especially when SpaceX deadlines do not always fit perfectly into our academic schedules. The juggling of commitment demands careful planning and proactivity and is crucial to participation. It is constantly kept in mind that you must succeed in your technical courses to contribute to the team, but disappearing for a week to polish off coursework means that someone else must pick up your slack.
Once you have dedicated your time to HYPED, involvement tends to accelerate and it is impossible to stop. Bonding with a team of like-minded, bright students and holding manufactured parts that have been worked on tirelessly through a computer screen simply becomes addictive. Since our pod is manufactured by students at Edinburgh University’s facilities, getting your hands dirty in manufacturing is part of the experience and the struggle becomes physical as well as mental, creating a profound sense of achievement.
With such a large team, HYPED students have taken on a significant management challenge as well as innovative Engineering. Around 150 students who signed up are organised into research and technical teams which consist of sub-teams with Technical Heads and Project Managers. Each role that is played is the key to success, and members gain the experience of finding a balance between professional relationships and friendships.
In designing and manufacturing a pod that essentially come from a blank sheet of paper; HYPED students are largely exposed to walking into the unknown. Mostly ideas are driven solely by the student’s inspiration and motivation to create something unique. With this, valuable lessons are learned in the importance of staying inspired by our goals, but also evaluating their feasibility.
Toward the end of manufacturing, the hardest challenges arise when compromise and sacrifice come into play, especially when timing gets tight. With stress levels at a peak, keeping only the most important goals focussed in mind becomes critical. This is where the HYPED’s teamwork never ceases to impress; as the students’ abilities to keep spirits high and attitudes positive is pushed further with every hurdle, they constantly rise to the challenge. On the other hand, it’s sometimes in overcoming the seemingly impossible road blocks where the fun is found; creative solutions are often the source of good laughs and unforgettable experiences. Shipping carbon fibre parts to California in people’s luggage; storing the assembled pod overnight in a garage next to spaceX; and having the pod escorted across a road by a Hawthorne Police car are all examples of when HYPED members have been truly stressed but truly enjoyed themselves in the process. As well as battling random logistics challenges, there are more formal perks to enjoy as part of HYPED. These come in the form of visits to places like NASA’s JPL, having breakfast at the British Consulate in LA, being behind a stall at Innovate UK, and countless other once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
In essence, from the start of design to the end of our manufacturing period, HYPED has taken in a group of ambitious individuals and produced a resilient team of Engineers who know the meaning of truly hard work.
Authors: Nadezda Avanessova, Maisie Edwards-Mowforth
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