Women in Engineering: HYPED

Ewa Radzanowska, Alliance Niyigena, Stella Antonogiannaki, Luisa Schrempf, and Linda di Felice of HYPED
Ewa Radzanowska, Alliance Niyigena, Stella Antonogiannaki, Luisa Schrempf, and Linda di Felice of HYPED
To mark this year’s International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), we are showcasing the achievements of a range of women in engineering – students, staff and alumni. The theme of this year’s INWED is how women engineers ‘Shape the World’, and we will hear from students, staff and alumni who are doing just that.

We spoke to Ewa, Alliance, Stella, Luisa, and Linda, team members of HYPED, a student society based in the School of Engineering which works on Hyperloop technology. Hyperloop is a proposed form of future mass transport based on a network of near-vacuum steel tubes, through which magnetically levitating pods would transport humans and cargo. Pioneers of the technology have suggested that it could shorten a journey such as Edinburgh to London to 30 minutes. 

Each year the team designs and builds a Hyperloop pod with the aim of qualifying for the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition in California, which draws together the best Hyperloop from universities worldwide. For the past three years running, HYPED were the only UK-based team to qualify for the competition. 

Ewa Radzanowska, President 2020/21

My role: After a year in HYPED as the Head of Dynamics I was recently elected President for 2020/2021. My role changed from managing the design and testing of mechanical subsystems like brakes and suspension to overseeing all aspects of the society, which vastly diversified my tasks and responsibilities. Two of my main duties as President are to ensure that HYPED is continually working towards the goals we set ourselves and, more importantly, that our members get the most out of their participation in the projects. I and the new committee have spent the past couple of months planning different recruitment and onboarding scenarios for September, hopefully adding to new members' experiences once we welcome them in the coming year.

Best thing about being part of HYPED: The best thing about HYPED is the team - everyone in the society is incredibly ambitious, hardworking and enthusiastic about what they do. It's really inspiring to see a team of students come together to work towards a common goal, and even if things don't go quite as planned (as happened this semester), they still think of solutions and keep going. Being part of the team taught me a lot about communications and cooperation between people from different backgrounds and disciplines, which I am certain will come in useful in my future career.

How we are 'shaping the world': HYPED is contributing to Hyperloop, a highly efficient mode of transportation that could be a greener substitute for short-haul flights in future. Additionally, the society encourages students to pursue their interests and gives them opportunities to collaborate with industry, universities, and academics, supporting their development as engineers and accelerating their career - this includes some past members of HYPED starting their own companies. Lastly, HYPED is a prime example to the world that students can be part of ground-breaking projects, motivating younger people to be active in their knowledge pursuit.

My goals and ambitions: I'm very enthusiastic about sustainable development and I'm determined to contribute to the carbon neutral movement in my future career. Energy efficient transportation is something I'm considering pursuing; other options are zero carbon housing or the renewable energy industry, the latter of which I am currently involved in as part of my MEng placement.

Alliance Niyigena, Head of Power 2019/20 

My role: I was Head of Power Team for the HYPED pod 2020, with responsibility for the electrification of the vehicle. This role involved ensuring all the sensors, software systems, motors and security systems were supplied with the correct amount of energy, and safely operated. My work with HYPED formed the basis of my MEng project on the build of a new battery system for the pod using lithium polymer cells - which doubled the power potential of the pod while reducing battery weight by half.

Best thing about being part of HYPED: My experiences in the technical team have enhanced my self-learning abilities including developing strong persistence and dedication. I hope that other women in technical groups don't give up, regardless of how difficult it feels at times. For me, being able to inspire the next generation of HYPED women has become my most important motivation. I hope that all the girls in HYPED continue to propose solutions, ask questions and keep learning.

How we are 'shaping the world': I have been a part of HYPED since October 2017, and since then the society has grown tremendously. We have been mentioned in the School of Engineering’s 150th anniversary timeline wall in the Kings Buildings, our Commercial Team was a winner of Hyperloop One Global Challenge, and the Outreach team runs STEM workshops for school children. HYPED has also generated two spin-out companies – Continuum Industries and Lenz. Our team has proven that students are capable of doing great things, producing high-calibre researchers, engineers, scientists, marketing strategists, business developers, and entrepreneurs.

My goals and ambitions: Being part of HYPED has given me valuable hands-on experience and an in-depth understanding of electrical engineering and product development. In future, I want to continue working with energy advancement and entrepreneurship. Energy is part of almost every conceivable aspect of development, with the developed world currently transitioning from limited fossil fuels to renewable energy sources and undeveloped economies still focusing on electrification of remote areas. My ambition is to build a start-up, dedicated to the development and nationalisation of energy generation in emerging economies. 

Stella Antonogiannaki, Head of Research 2020/21

My role: I am the new Research Director at HYPED. This means I have to make a plan for the year detailing what the team will be working on, any competitions we might compete in and our overall goals, while cooperating with the rest of the committee. I will produce a timeline based on said plan and make sure the Research Team is on track to achieve our goals throughout the year. However, I see being responsible for a team as something more than making sure we are successful in our task. A very important aspect of my responsibility is to make sure everyone is enjoying being part of HYPED and having a positive experience participating in the Research Team!

Best thing about being part of HYPED: In the last few months I have learned so much more than I expected when I first joined the team. I gained all sorts of new skills, but also discovered what it’s like to work on a big project with a lot of different people in a much bigger team than I had ever experienced before. My favourite part of the experience has been meeting other enthusiastic students and enjoying the little milestones we reached together, even if we didn’t get to complete our project due to COVID-19.

How we are 'shaping the world': I believe that any activity that gets young people to work together towards something is positively shaping the world in one way or another. After all, we will graduate one day and apply the things we’ve learned to real world issues rather than competitions. On a more practical note, we are trying to build connections with industry, so that we can help move the transport industry forward, and there has been more than one startup founded by HYPED alumni to work towards that goal.

My goals and ambitions: Like any other young and idealistic student, I would like to do something that helps people in some way and I recognize there are many different ways to do that. As I only just finished my first year of University I am still exploring my options and learning as much as possible about different things. Hopefully I will end up doing something interesting, useful and fun!

Luisa Schrempf, Head of Propulsion 2019/20

My role: In my first year at the University of Edinburgh, I joined HYPED as a Propulsion Engineer. After going to California for the IV SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition in the summer of 2019, I took on the position of Head of Propulsion. In a nutshell, my team is responsible for building the pod’s propulsion system. As a team of 12 motivated engineers, we designed HYPED’s first Double-Sided Linear Induction Motors (DSLIM) this year. In February and March, we were manufacturing the prototype for the design, until the University shut down due to COVID-19. On a day-to-day basis, my responsibilities included managing the tasks of my team, ensuring we were following a tight time schedule, reaching out to possible partners in the industry and maintaining previously established relationships, as well as contributing towards the pod’s design and hand-winding motors.

Best thing about being part of HYPED: HYPED exposes me to the daily challenges an engineer might experience. As I am studying for a BSc Physics, I particularly enjoy applying my theoretical physics knowledge to solving engineering problems. Additionally, as the team of 12 members consisted of 10 different nationalities, I gain the unique experience of working with an incredibly diverse team. HYPED delivers a fantastic framework for university students to delve into an interesting engineering project, gain expert knowledge on a chosen subsystem and learn to work in a team with like-minded peers. In this light, HYPED is shaping students to become open, competent, and responsible engineers.

My goals and ambitions: Recently I have enjoyed researching Quantum Field Theory, and antimatter has particularly sparked my interest. Working at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has been a dream of mine ever since I visited the research organisation in 2017.

Linda di Felice, Technical Director 2019-20

My role: For the past year I was one of the team’s Technical Directors. This role involved leading the direction of the technical team, making final decisions on engineering challenges and ensuring that morale and motivation was kept up within the team. I worked closely with the rest of the technical committee and MEng students to make sure that our design was finalised and that the MEng projects integrated seamlessly with the rest of the team. Since lockdown, which stopped any manufacturing and prototyping activity in HYPED, I have focussed on writing a detailed technical document describing the latest prototype so that the transition to next year’s committee could be as smooth as possible.

Best thing about being part of HYPED: I find the environment in HYPED one of its best attributes. It welcomes those in with little experience and gives them the chance to learn the basics and progress from never having used computer-aided design (CAD) to assembling their fully designed system onto a crucial part of the prototype Hyperloop pod. I’m constantly inspired and motivated by those I’m working with and it’s an absolute joy to lead a team of such hard-working individuals.

How we are 'shaping the world': I believe we are also contributing to the conversation about what faster, more efficient and greener methods of transport could exist in the future. We’re currently the best Hyperloop student team within the UK, and can now show our developed vision with the reveal of our latest pod on the 25 2020 June (see our new website for more details)! Aside from the development of the hyperloop, I believe that our team is a place for nurturing inspired and passionate future engineers, scientists and business people to go on and do incredible things later in their careers. 

My goals and ambitions: Although my academic background is as a physicist, I thoroughly enjoy the real life practical applications of theoretical knowledge to solve engineering problems. With whatever career path I follow in the future, I’ll be sure to bring the knowledge and experience learnt from my time with HYPED.

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