Image: Warwick Media Library

Warwick students qualify for the finals of Elon Musk’s tunnelling competition

A team of students from the University of Warwick called The Warwick Boring Team are heading to Los Angeles this summer to compete in the finals for Elon Musk’s Boring Company tunnelling competition.

The team will build their tunnelling machine in LA and test it against competitors from other top universities including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Technical University of Munich, ETH Zurich, and industry tunnelling professionals.

Warwick Boring team made the shortlist of 12 teams out of almost 400 applicants, making them in the top 3% worldwide.

The event is called the Not-a-Boring Competition and will be held this summer. Teams will build their prototype tunnel boring machines and demonstrate their operation to build 30m long and 500mm wide tunnels.

Elon Musk’s Boring Company, founded in 2016, is an infrastructure and tunnel construction company whose aim is to construct safe, fast-to-dig, low-cost tunnels for transport, utility, and freight.

Team members are Warwick STEM students from a range of fields including mechanical, electrical, system engineering, physics, and mathematics. They are supported by several industry experts and university academics.

We are still shocked by the result! The project is like a roller-coaster with ups and downs. We have spent hundreds of hours designing and engineering the product

– Sanzhar Taizhan

The team started last September, proceeding through several selection stages to get to the finals. They believe their machine will make “transport greener, cheaper and faster in the future”.

Sanzhar Taizhan, founder and co-project lead at Warwick Boring, said: “We are still shocked by the result! The project is like a roller-coaster with ups and downs. We have spent hundreds of hours designing and engineering the product. The experience competing at extremely fast-pace competition and technical-orientated is invaluable.”

They added: “However, there is no time to rest, and we need to keep working hard on building the first prototype and do well in the summer. Our team are very talented and the University of Warwick is strongly helping us to achieve our goals. Anyone who is interested to support our team, please, feel free to reach out to us. We launched crowdfunding campaign on our website.”

Sanzhar Taizhan has previously led a team to the semi-finals of another Elon Musk competition, the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition, where they designed a high-efficient and fast hyperloop capsule. The Warwick Hyperloop team contained over 400 students through three years of work.

Dr Alan Bloodworth, a civil engineering lecturer and an academic advisor for Warwick Boring, said: “This is indeed a fantastic achievement by the team. They have shown great confidence, self-belief and a ‘can do’ attitude, as well as careful attention to high quality engineering and technical solutions…We look forward with great anticipation to the final.”

Professor Gill Cooke, head of teaching in the School of Engineering, said: “We are so proud of the achievements of the student-led team in qualifying. Working across different disciplines is an important life skill that we encourage at Warwick, and it is great to see students from different departments collaborating.”

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