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Hyperloop Module

Imagine you’re designing an ultrahigh-speed train that will travel the East Coast of the US. How quickly can it accelerate from a stop to full speed, and what’s the tightest-radius turn it could achieve while remaining comfortable for passengers? How long would the trip from Boston to Washington take, given those constraints and the distances, masses, and energy requirements? This kind of problem lets you teach core elements of kinematics—1D motion, accelerated motion, circular motion, energy conservation—and introduces the human factors and real-life considerations that arise in the solution of real-world problems. It requires both “exact” calculations and effective estimation skills—key skills needed in real-world employment. This pedagogical approach can be applied at various levels in the student experience and utilized as a scaffold on which a semester course can be built.

Cross-section of a hyperloop tunnel and car

Hyperloop Module for Teaching Introductory Physics

A prototype for the Hyperloop, a train that is designed to travel at speeds greater than 700 km/hr in evacuated tubes. The Hyperloop introductory physics module developed at Loyola University Maryland is built around this concept and includes questions of technical feasibility and human desirability, in addition to physics. This activity can be easily adapted to online environments.
Source: Loyola University Maryland

Activity Description

First-year physics problems and activities that introduce innovation and entrepreneurship concepts

Learning Objectives

  • Improve understanding of basic physics concepts
  • Convey that vary basic physics principles can be used to address feasibility questions of potential innovations


4 hours spread throughout the semester as topics are introduced

Target audience

Students in a First-year, first semester physics course (calculus- or algebra-based)

Suggested context for implementation

Problems can be assigned as individual exercises, but are best worked in groups during class time.