High speed stakes

CNA grad headed to international SpaceX competition

8/15/2017 2:15:57 PM

College of the North Atlantic graduate Mark Comeau (top), of Amherst, NS, is one of 21 students representing Newfoundland and Labrador in Hawthorne, California as part of the Paradigm Hyperloop team. Their design for the next high-speed mode of transportation will be run through a gauntlet of tests on the one-mile long track during the weekend competition held August 25-27.

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College of the North Atlantic (CNA) graduate Mark Comeau is one of 21 students from Newfoundland and Labrador heading to Hawthorne, California as part of the international Paradigm Hyperloop team. The team’s design for the world’s next high-speed mode of transportation will be run through a gauntlet of tests on a one-mile long track August 25-27 as part of the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition.
The Paradigm Hyperloop team is made up of 40 members; 20 students from Memorial University, one from CNA, and 19 from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. It is currently the only team left in the international competition with Canadian representation.
“Over 1,200 teams submitted design packages to SpaceX for review,” Comeau said. “That number was reduced to 125, and in January 2016 there was a design competition in Texas where it was further reduced to 31 teams. Up until that point it was all on paper.”
The vehicles were built, tested and presented to the public during the Phase I of the competition in January 2017 in California. Paradigm finished in the top 10 teams during Phase I which earned them the right to compete in Phase II.
Comeau, who graduated from CNA’s Mechanical Engineering Manufacturing Co-op program this year, is just a day away from boarding a plane bound for Los Angeles for the Competition, after making two trips to Boston where Paradigm has been working to get their prototype ready for the competition.
“I joined the team in April because they needed someone to take their concepts and help make them into reality when previous team members graduated,” said Comeau, who is the Manufacturing Lead for the project. “From there I have been developing the manufacturing plans, sourcing vendors to do the work, or we have been doing the work ourselves to design and fabricate the upgrades we need for this competition.”
Aug. 20-24 is test week for their pod when SpaceX engineers will pick their design apart and run it through every test and safety check to ensure it is of sound design. If given the green light, then it will be run through the test track Aug. 25-27 at full speed.
Regardless of the outcome, Comeau says this has been a life-changing experience which has altered his plans for the future.
“It’s very humbling. I never thought in a million years I would be involved with something like this. I came from the oil and gas industry and I had full intentions of returning to it. However, since being introduced to this project my life goals and ideas have changed a lot,” Comeau said.
“The group of people involved in this project are very innovative, open-minded individuals who don’t conform to the standard practice of the generation before us. I had full intentions of graduating, going back into the oil industry and doing my 30 years and retiring. But this has been a real eye-opener, especially in terms of creativity and application of skills. There is a huge environment here that fosters and encourages creative design. It’s a new avenue to apply skills and it has been a really fun experience.”
For more information about Paradigm Hyperloop visit www.paradigmhyperloop.com, or to learn more about CNA’s Mechanical Engineering Technology, Co-Op program visit www.cna.nl.ca.

Media Contact:
Glenda McCarthy
Public Relations Specialist
College of the North Atlantic