He learned ropes in the garage
them for one goal.
“For a pretty analytical guy, [the successful demonstration] was pretty emotional moment … that shared experience everyone has at the same time.”
Now that Hyperloop has proven its concept works, Mr. Giegel said, the next steps are to continue refining and simplifying the technology so that it is practical and affordable. He’s convinced advances in manufacturing technology and electronics will allow that to happen quickly so the company can reach its five-year goal.
“That’s the billion-dollar question,” he said. “We’re building the airplane, the airport, the runway and the sky all at once. I think we can build a Ferrari for the price of an Audi.”
Mr. Giegel said he’s happy to see his home area is part of the Midwest Connection proposal that’s moving forward. He’s from a family of huge hockey fans and when they attended a Penguins playoff game in Columbus last spring, he dreamed that making the trip in a hyperloop in about 15 minutes would allow Pittsburgh fans to fill Nationwide Arena.
“The more we started looking at the connection between these three cities, the more we started to see how it makes sense,” he said. “You take two industrial cities (Pittsburgh and Columbus) and a money city (Chicago) and put in the Hyperloop to connect them in a half hour, those three effectively become one mega-city.
He’s also noticed a change in Western Pennsylvania. When he left in 2003, many of his friends and classmates were leaving, too, but many have started returning with the emerging high-tech economy, he said.
That brings him back to the lessons he learned growing up in an engineering family and working in the garage with his father, where he was amazed at how much his father knew about vehicles. When he reached middle school, Mr. Giegel realized his father really didn’t “know” that much but used his curiosity as an engineer to try things until he found something that worked.
Family vacations were usually two-week trips that inevitably ended up visiting a science museum along the way. He pokes fun at himself and his wife, Stephanie, also an engineer, by telling the story of their wedding night spent in bed looking at a live engineering feat on a laptop.
It’s all part of what led him to have what Hyperloop calls an “unmatched background in thermodynamics, heat transfer, compressible fluid mechanics, power cycles, turbomachinery, and nonlinear structural analysis.”
“If ever there’s a fish in water, it’s me,” he said of being involved in developing revolutionary technology.
“One of the things [my father] taught me was the only thing standing between you and what you want to do is you.”