Maryland today | Nothing “boring” about international students …


A team from the University of Maryland that competes with peers around the world in challenges designed to support a futuristic high-speed tube train concept have pulled out of a tunnel-digging competition in Las Vegas this month. last among the top four pavers and lifting the safety award.

What are the 25 or so members of UMDLoop does not havemaking – in fact, running their hand-built digging machine on campus – helped them win this award from the Boring Company, created by billionaire industrialist Elon Musk to revolutionize and dramatically speed up construction. of tunnels.

Of the 12 teams that qualified last year for the Not-a-Boring competition (out of an international pool of over 400 applicants), only eight made it to the desert test site. Among them was the Maryland team, which had competed for the logistics of transporting their tunnel boring machine and its nearly 4,000 parts by truck across the country. Only four of them – from Germany, Switzerland, UK and UMD – were allowed to dig after challenges including a sandstorm that forced the evacuation of the site, followed by a sleepless night by the Terps to get back on track.

“You have a week to prove that your system is working, that the calculations you made were correct, that you won’t harm anyone,” said team leader Shane Bonkowski ’23, an aerospace engineering student. “We went through it all, and finally we were allowed to dig at 4 am on the morning of the competition.”

As they prepared for the launch of their tunnel boring machine – which weighs several tons and digs a 24-inch-diameter hole – engineers, physicists and computer scientists Terps realized it was facing major problems caused by damaged sensors during the transport. With no quick remedies available and facing new risks to equipment and potentially team members if they attempted the boring 100-foot task in the middle of the competition, they withdrew, winning kudos for doing so. a wise choice.

In the end, only the team from the Technical University of Munich were able to move dirt with their drilling rig, and still failed to climb 100 feet before stopping against the buried rock.

UMDLoop previously finished in the top six of 24 international teams competing to drive experimental vehicles, or pods, through tunnels during the SpaceX Hyperloop Challenge 2017. Although they weren’t entirely happy with this year’s outcome , the team members are excited about what they have accomplished and what lies ahead, including an invitation from the Boring Company to come back and demonstrate their machine next year.

“I am extremely proud of the work accomplished by our team. We are a team entirely led by undergraduates, and every decision, every design is just us, ”Bonkowski said. “A year ago we literally didn’t know anything about soil science, about tunneling, none of that. What this team has been able to accomplish and learn in such a short time is truly impressive. “

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