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Can you tell us about your work?
According to Anshuman Kumar, the basic mantra to make big things happen is, “infinite persistence and thinking from first principles.” Kumar knows firsthand how big things happen, especially when it comes to reinventing transportation. While at Carnegie Mellon, he founded and led the university’s Hyperloop team and upon graduating was recruited by Tesla Motors to work on the electronics that power its growing fleet of electric cars.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?
When Elon Musk first made public his idea for the Hyperloop — an ultra-high speed ground transportation system that would rocket passengers hundreds of miles through a tube — some thought he’d gone off the rails.
But Anshuman Kumar, who was in India preparing to embark on a Carnegie Mellon education, leaped at the opportunity to do something groundbreaking during his time as a student. Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, called on universities around the world to compete to design and build the best Hyperloop pod. One month before Kumar even arrived in Pittsburgh, he’d already recruited half a dozen team members eager to accept the challenge.
Kumar’s experience at Carnegie Mellon started just as SpaceX announced its Hyperloop competition. Kumar got to work almost immediately. “The timing was perfect, and I realized very soon that this was what I’ll end up doing for the entire next year,” he explains. Kumar was able to assemble an initial group in a matter of days and with just a few quick posts on social media. As word about this exciting new project spread, students from all disciplines began showing interest, and the official Carnegie Mellon Hyperloop team was born. The team today is a 60-person group of highly talented students from the MIIPS program as well as Carnegie Mellon’s College of Engineering, School of Design and Tepper School of Business.
Can you tell us about the CMU experience?
The pod designed by CMU’s Hyperloop team, which has grown to 50 engineering, design and business students at Carnegie Mellon, made it to the semifinal round of the Official SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition based on a document they submitted detailing aspects of their pod’s levitation, propulsion, structures, navigation, communication and safety.
After months of designing, developing and fundraising, Kumar and his team presented their initial pod concept in January 2015 at Design Weekend at Texas A&M University. Carnegie Mellon Hyperloop was selected as one of 22 finalist teams from more than 1,000 competitors. For these chosen finalists, the competition culminates in January 2017 at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Carnegie Mellon Hyperloop will be competing against other top universities including MIT, Delft University of Technology and Virginia Tech. With the design completely finalized, the team moved with great pace toward their first pod prototype.
As the Project Manager and Lead Design Engineer, Kumar says he couldn’t imagine Carnegie Mellon Hyperloop’s success without the support from the Integrated Innovation Institute and the lessons he learned from the MIIPS program, “The Integrated Innovation Institute gave me unique access to resources and contacts in engineering, business and design that were instrumental in our success.” He continues, “The MIIPS program also taught me key skills in project management and leadership. I’ve been able to draw direct parallels between how I managed the Hyperloop team and what I learned in the classroom. It was a perfect fit.”
What did you study?
Kumar will graduate from Carnegie Mellon in 2016 with a master’s degree in Integrated Innovation for Products and Services.
Before coming to CMU, he completed his B.Tech from IIT Delhi (Production and Industrial Engineering)