Late on a wednesday afternoon, I was contacted by a fellow journalist – Natasha Sydor, with information on a new ‘super-team’ trailblazing the pathway to the future of travel. Sydor had conducted a series of interviews with students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison about their journey to becoming the next generation of pioneers.
In a world where ‘millennial’ are stigmatised and stereotyped, the 100+ student team at the University created “BadgerLoop”, a group to combat Elon Musk’s 2015 competition to develop a ‘Hyperloop’ travel system. The winner would receive sponsorship – a reward obviously incredibly desired by BadgerLoop.
By assembling the universities most passionate and intellectually invested students, the founders of the project – Sidney Smith, David Vanveen and Max Goldberg inadvertently founded a small company. Not only did they push for a better future through technological advances in the Hyperloop world, they solidified their own futures based on innovation, technology and success. The men and women, each combatting societal pressures based on age and doubts of knowledge, smashed through doubters to prove themselves as worthy technological pioneers. As Sydor wrote, “this initiative is a refreshing reminder to people of all ages that the ‘millennial generation’ [a term she uses to describe the young people in today’s society] has great potential; for the BadgerLoop team, the future doesn’t have to wait. They’re creating it.”.
As a graduate of the countries fastest-growing and widest reaching project, I couldn’t echo this point any more heavily. Young people make of the future what they put into it. Stereotypes and doubters will exist regardless and forevermore. However, its defying these set-backs, and how you prove yourself, that sets your pathway in life. I am creating my future, and so should you. Seek opportunities, and if they don’t exist, make them. Innovate.
Speaking of their achievements in the past eight months alone, the BadgerLoop team told Sydor that they had accumulated a team of over 150 students, designed a 15 ‘ levitating vehicle accompanied by a “272 slide technical design package” and developed multiple prototypes.
So what is ‘Hyperloop’ technology? It is a system of travel reliant on capsules propelled by linear induction motors and air compressors, a form of travel which has since been revived by SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. It aims to provide quick travel links for when plane flights are too short to operate, or where train travel is too long to bear. it will also, as stated by Sydor, “allow people to live and work hundreds of miles away from one another”.
The BadgerLoop team has clear goals for the future, with aims of surpassing their fundraising goal of $80,000 with an optimal goal of $130,000. This is to cover all construction and operational costs of the ‘pod’ to launch on SpaceX’s test track in California in August.
What does this mean for young people in the world today? Quite a lot, actually! As a young person myself, I know how hard it can feel to face a long line of brick walls. There really is no denying it, the majority of employers are skeptical of younger people. They’re reluctant to employ us, or to give us a chance. And whilst that was understandable, say 30 years ago, times have changed. As shown with the drastic increase and dominance of technology, younger and younger people are innovating the world. This was shown with Zuckerberg and Facebook, Musk and Tesla and many more. It can be you. I feel like this is some sort of call-to-action, of sorts, a revolution. It’s really not. It’s understanding the potential within ourselves to shape the future of the world, and the future of “us”. We create our own pathways in life, as shown by the brilliant BadgerLoop team, and we are innovating the future. Carpe Diem.
-Benjamin John Wareing