Is the cutting-edge Hyperloop just a 300 mile-long pipe dream?

Classic 20th century science fiction writers imagined today as a hyper-futuristic world of flying cars, androids and off-planet colonies. Futurist Elon Musk, owner of SpaceX, creator of the Tesla and the real-life Tony Stark, has his own ideas on how to make this sort of reality possible. One of these is a groundbreaking technology that can send a person from Austin to Dallas in under 20 minutes.

This complex technology, known as Hyperloop, propels a levitating train car through an underground, low-pressure tunnel. Announced in a 2013 white paper, Musk hopes it can solve many modern transportation problems, including speed, safety and sustainability.

The long tube that the Hyperloop pod would travel down is what’s known as a vacuum, meaning it lacks any air, so air friction would not exist—but if the pod springs a leak, it’s very likely each passenger would die in seconds.

A NASA feasibility analysis of the Hyperloop concept last year analyzed Musk’s invention from a critical level, and they saw these potentially catastrophic possibilities early.

“The biggest issues with hyperloop technology are speed and scale,” the analysis said. “It is still unclear how to create a prototype that verifies the safety of the technology and allows testing of all necessary components.”

Working with SpaceX, a proposed solution is to use Hyperloop for cargo transportation only in its early years and expand upon that once safety is ensured. But for this process to even begin, it will need large-scale funding that Musk alone cannot provide.

Ex-Amazon Fresh coordinator Brittain Ladd said he hopes cooperation between SpaceX, Amazon and a state could lead to the acceleration of the project, provided a state is willing. For Ladd, the development of Hyperloop and Amazon’s current search for a second headquarters location could be knocked out with one stone, leading to a positive impact above ground as well.

“If Texas were to try and lure Amazon’s HQ2 to the state, what if the first thing they announce together is a high-speed rail station within HQ2?,” Ladd said. “If Amazon and the State were to work together and say ‘What if we actually built a Hyperloop from Laredo, El Paso, the border crossing, and instead of shipping on trucks, we’ll take them to Dallas.’ Imagine the great impact on the road and the environment.”

To further progress Hyperloop’s technology, Musk enlists the help of American students. In 2015, he started an annual Hyperloop Pod Competition, in which students from across the US compete to make the fastest, safest model of a Hyperloop pod to run on SpaceX’s test track in California. University of Texas electrical engineering professor Alex Claudel advises UT’s largest team, who have taken to calling themselves Guadaloop.

“So far all we could demonstrate was that it was working in a vacuum,” Claudel said. “We want to explore air bearing technology, we haven’t tested at high speeds.”

At last year’s competition, Guadaloop won the innovation award for their innovative use of air bearings. Texas’ other team, named 512 Hyperloop, made it to the final round but did not win an award. This year, the teams are shaking things up by working together as one group, and though growing pains are inevitable, they believe they can work best together.



3 Reasons You Need Our Academic Site License

Originally published on the official National Instruments Blog.

Between the rising expenses of classes, textbooks, and mandatory tech, students and university programs need all the help they can get. Our Academic Site License (ASL) lets your academic institution partner with us to provide students, professors, and researchers with access to software, learning materials, and online courses.

Real World Experience

An ASL gives students access to tactile experiences that build their intrinsic engineering knowledge. Just ask Naval Academy professor John Roth.

His partnership with us provided his students with knowledge and hands-on experience that wouldn’t be possible without an ASL.

One project in particular involved launching a weather balloon, collaboratively built by the students. His project used the strongest benefits of an ASL, providing students with hands-on application that left them a real sense of accomplishment.

See for yourself: 

Better use of lab time

More experimentation; less set up. Installing our software on lab computers andstudent’s laptops allows pre-lab assignments or code up experiments to be completed when it works best for students.

For Roth, this meant assigning work outside class and allowing students to focus on the application in the lab. Building up familiarity and proficiency with the platform ahead of time let students focus on more demanding challenges in the lab, producing higher quality projects by the end of the semester.

Time efficiency through central IT management
Managing multiple single seat licenses, with individual start and end dates, varying access toolkits and modules, and separate costs puts a large burden on your IT department.

Bringing your licensing maintenance and management together under a single roof saves significant IT manpower. Our licensing software lets you integrate with industry standard license managers to provide one central place to maintain, manage and distribute licenses to your end users.

ASL owners also get access to the majority of LabVIEW toolkits and modules, as well as all previous versions. This lowers compatibility conflicts with older systems and streamlines collaboration with other NI software users inside and outside your university.

Success at a fraction of the full cost

Suited to teaching, research or student design, the software included in the ASL would cost more than ten time as much if purchased as individual licenses. Unhindered access to the significant majority of our software lets you build any application for a single, low price.

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With his ASL, Professor Roth guaranteed access to specialized tools like LabVIEW Communications, specifically for prototyping wireless systems.

When the balloon launched required students out on the road to troubleshoot and provide on-the-go analysis from a chase vehicle using HAM Radio and USRP. None of this would have been possible without taking LabVIEW outside the laboratory.

Every student. Every lab. Every researcher.

An Academic Site License is a student, instructor, and researcher’s best path to using our software.

Pursue a site license at your academic institution >>

Already have an ASL? Visit the Courseware Portal to ensure you have the latest version of all the software and take advantage of the latest courseware available.

Meet Nigel, our snarky but wise mascot

Originally published on the National Instruments blog.

Our official mascot Nigel helps out and hypes us up, and now it’s time for him to make his public debut. He’ll be attending NIWeek, and we had a chance to sit down, talk with him, and let him share with the world who he really is.

Tell us about yourself.


Oh, sorry, you’re a human, I keep forgetting you don’t speak Eaglish.

I’m Nigel the Eagle. That’s first name Nigel the, last name Eagle. I go by Nigel for short (though I was nameless until 2006 but that’s a whole ‘nother story). I have existed behind the scenes here at NI for a while, answering employee questions on my FAQ blog and showing up at company meetings, but now they want me to talk to people.

You may know me from that one episode of “Planet Earth” or the NI logo (yes, my wings are actually N-shaped; I’m self-conscious and don’t like to talk about it).

I enable scientists and engineers to battle programming foes and tackle the greatest engineering riddles of our day. Essentially, I am the Batman of Engineering, to understate things.

How does it feel to be the mascot for NI?

Personally, I enjoy it! The people are great, our products are awesome and I have a MASSIVE nest in a rent-controlled tree on our gorgeous tech campus. Honestly, they should probably be paying me just to live near them. It is truly is an honor. For them.


How do you show team spirit and unity for NI?

Well, I generally consider myself a hype guy. I dance, wave my arms, take pictures, and pose for pictures.


Don’t worry, I’ll give you plenty of time to recover after seeing that picture.





I’ll also be at NIWeek this year, meeting some of you humans. (Don’t be shy if you see me, the camera loves me!)

Sometimes I get worn out doing this, and then I remember how much better your day gets after meeting me, and I push on.

My primary job is to inspire NIers to crush our competition with the best software-centric platform around. And by crush, I mean this:


Do you have a technical background?


Yes, absolutely. I studied for four years at the Fowl Institute of Technology, and got a Flyer’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. I graduated top of my class, with a world-record 12 AWPPM…that’s Average Words Pecked Per Minute, mind you. Pecking is slow business.

What is your favorite NI product?

Is this a question?


LabVIEW, duh. Wait, do you know what LabVIEW is? It’s a development environment to accelerate the productivity of engineers and scientists. With a graphical programming syntax that makes engineering systems simple, LabVIEW is unmatched in helping you reduce test times, deliver business insights based on collected data, and translate ideas into reality.

Copy and paste is a useful tactic when it takes forever to type (don’t even ask how I go about pressing ctrl+c).

I have a program I created in LabVIEW which uses systems of differential equations and large-scale statistical data to determine the best place to find worms each day. Humans use Google Maps or Waze (AHAHAHAHA I guess some people use Apple Maps too ¯\_(ツ)_/¯), and I use a custom-programmed LabVIEW system to know where I’m going.

Do you have anything else to say?

Yes! Come find me during NIWeek! We can meet up and talk about our favorite fish and our favorite programming practices. It’ll be great.

I’ll be even more excited if I spot you wearing one of the t-shirts we’re giving out at the Software Pavilion. You can learn more about that here.

Ok, I’m going to go sleep now, it took me two days to type this (voice-to-text is nice but Siri doesn’t know Eaglish).

Announcing: ATE Core Configurations

Originally published on the National Instruments blog.

We’re excited to announce ATE Core Configurations, providing mechanical, safety, and power infrastructure – all in one.

The problem for test organizations

Test orgs often employ standardization to ensure high product quality at increasingly low costs. Standardization optimizes the cost and unique value of a company, in an era of converged devices.


Standardization requires test organizations to find:

  • A common set of instruments for stimulating and measuring signals from their device
  • Safety infrastructure that adheres to global standards
  • Power infrastructure that can receive power in any grid
  • Test executive for scripting measurements and reporting
  • Robust mechanical infrastructure

In addition, companies need to find the right vendors to globally support their systems and manage the lifecycle of each component.

Our solution: ATE Core Configurations

ATE Core Configurations help you lower your total cost of designing, procuring, owning, deploying, and maintaining test systems!

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Instead of forcing the you to track down hundreds of components from a slew of vendors, our ATE Core Configurations provide mechanical, safety, and power infrastructure all in one. They’re complemented by our industry-leading modular PXI hardware (more than 600 modules from DC to mmWave) and powered by our complete software portfolio, led by TestStand and LabVIEW.

You can leverage ATE Core Configurations as the platform for your standardization efforts. They give you the opportunity to customize as needed for each geography, department, or product line within your company.

How you can benefit from ATE Core Configurations

Our advisors put the convenience of customization in your hands and our manufacturing team will factory-install all equipment as you specify. Plus, the preinstalled software on the system controller will save valuable time.

After assembled, we package ATE Core Configurations in ruggedized shipping containers and deliver to your doorstep with the fast lead times you’ve come to expect from us. And if you need a turn-key system delivered and maintained, our global network of Alliance Partners is standing by to meet your needs!

Check out our new ATE Core Configurations >>>

Announcing: LabVIEW NXG. Faster measurements. Instant insight. Programming optional.

Originally published on the National Instruments blog.

The future of LabVIEW is here.

We’re excited to announce LabVIEW NXG 1.0, which introduces an efficient, non-programming workflow to LabVIEW – letting you spend more time on innovation than implementation!

With our next-gen software-centric platform, your applications can scale to meet the continually rising demand.


Key benefits of LabVIEW NXG

For both programmers and non-programmers alike, LabVIEW NXG bridges the gap between configuration-based software and custom programming languages, giving you the tools to increase your productivity and your breakthroughs.

  • Faster measurements. Streamlined, non-programming workflows simplify discovery, installation, verification, and optimization.
  • Instant insight. Interactive data management lets you explore results and apply iterative analysis with a single click.
  • Programming optional. Innovative new approach to measurement giving you more time to focus on solving challenges rather than programming.

Figure 1_Accelerate Engineering Graphic.jpg

So, what’s the transition to LabVIEW NXG like?

Worried about getting acclimated to new features and concepts? Never fear. LabVIEW NXG includes a native learning system teaches you engineering concepts while simultaneously familiarizing you with the environment. Workspace orientation will familiarize you with the new capabilities, and our interactive lessons provide example code and workbooks to guide you through engineering concepts and theory.

And who can use LabVIEW NXG, vs LabVIEW 2017, or both?

LabVIEW NXG 1.0 is available to all users active in the LabVIEW Standard Service Program (SSP) – and any new purchases of LabVIEW will include both LabVIEW 2017 and LabVIEW NXG 1.0. Which means you get the best of both worlds.

By providing faster measurements, instant insights, and a simplified user experience, your productivity will skyrocket. The next generation of technology is here.

Discover the future of LabVIEW, and what LabVIEW can do for you >>>

Tat-Tuesday: Student share stories behind their ink

Originally published at The Daily Texan.

Yessenia Herrera

Between her personal love of both music and tattoos, radio-television-film junior Yessenia Herrera has a great appreciation for artistic expression.

Herrera said she dreams of a large network of tattoos adorning her body, but for now she settles for the single, minimalist design of an origami frog, inspired by the cover of the album Copacetic.

“I wanted to start small, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted,” Herrera said. “Then I got it off an album cover of a band I like, Knuckle Puck. Their lyrics are very personal to me.”

Though the idea of tattoos can have a somewhat negative connotation, Herrera loves the personal ability to express herself and show that to the public.

“They’re very much about claiming your body,” Herrera  said. “I feel like they’re about personalizing yourself, and I like the art and modification.”


Evan Stack

The album Letting Off the Happiness by Bright Eyes had a significant impact on speech pathology sophomore Evan Stack when he first heard it in middle school.

“When I first listened to it, it really changed my perspective on music in a drastic way,” Stack said. “I think about it daily. I still listen to the record, and I still love it the way I loved it.”

This January, Stack decided to take an unplanned trip to a tattoo shop and get a portion of the cover on his shoulder. But to him, these three fireworks mean more than just a beloved album.

“There’s a lot of lo-fi production techniques that are technically unimpressive but add a human quality to the record,” Stack said. “It symbolizes a DIY musical ideology, and it really struck me poignantly.”


Emily Gibson 

The tattoo of a black-eyed susan — Maryland’s state flower — that marks the leg of journalism senior Emily Gibson is only the first in a planned series of tattoos.

“I got it the summer after I moved here from Maryland,” Gibson said. “It’s where I grew up, and I have this plan that I’m gonna get a tattoo for everywhere I live that shapes me as a person.”

The experience of living in Texas and Maryland have been stark contrasts to one another, with both cultures valuing different sports, different foods and different attitudes. Moving to Texas uprooted her life, and the tattoo helps to commemorate the previous chapter.

“The places where you live inform who you are,” Gibson said. “You learn about who you are everywhere you go.”

Good Flow Honey provides a treat to locavores with a sweet tooth

Good Flow Honey provides a treat to locavores with a sweet tooth

Originally published at The Daily Texan.

In the face of numerous obstacles, the members of the Crofut family pursue their shared passion — the wildly popular Good Flow Honey Company.

The beloved honey, now on the shelves of grocers all over Austin, started out as just a school project for founders Tom and Judy Crofut for their former employer, Greenbriar School.

“The school closed,” Judy Crofut said. “So, there we were with the beehives and the honey. So, we started selling the honey.”

With their children Daniel and Jennifer in tow, Good Flow began. Their product quickly became a mainstay in the diet of locally-minded Austinites such as Andre Davis, an employee of Wheatsville Co-op, one of Austin’s licensed sellers of Good Flow, who believes their honey is one of the best in Austin.

“Their honey tends to be sweeter,” Davis said. “It’s more of like a creamy sweetness with vanilla undertones, it’s not as molasses-y as some of those other ones.”

Once people began to take to their blend of honey, Good Flow began selling juice as well. Placing their personal spin of pure, unprocessed goods on juices helped Good Flow thrive, reaching more customers than ever.

“The juice really took off,” Crofut said. “We got a location on east Cesar Chavez in 1980.”

Then, in 2008, FDA restrictions on the juicing process forced Good Flow Juice and Honey Co. to shutter a significant part of their company.

Though they did initially attempted to work with the government, Crofut said the endless bureaucracy and even typos in official documents consistently blocked their path. Many local buyers still lament this loss, including Davis.

“I loved it. It was way better than the things they on the market have now,” Davis said. “Their orange juice was just the best.”

These days, the Good Flow warehouse is mostly empty. Though they initially bought the space for their juicing business, it’s now being solely used for honey storage, it occupies about half of the space and has an odd, somewhat creepy feeling. However, Crofut said the empty space will not go to waste. She intends to eventually reopen Good Flow’s juicing business. They are attempting to revisit working with the FDA to approve a process which properly pasteurizes the juice, while retaining Good Flow’s standards of raw purity.

“We can still make fresh citrus juice because you can apply the bacteria killer to the outside of citrus, and then squeeze them and make the juice fresh,” she said. “We’re hoping to get in time for when the Texas crop comes in for the fall, but you never know.”

Even after all of these highs and lows, the Crofuts remain passionate about their business. This passion extends to even their children, who now work with the company. Their daughter Jennifer helps out in the office, doing computer work and labeling. She said she’s passionate about supporting the company’s presence in the city.

“My favorite part is watching the product go out,” Jennifer Crofut said. “It’s perfectly hand-done, and we take great pride in it.”