Stories | March 17th 2018
5 minute read

Women of HYPED: Alliance Niyigena

"I think the world is ready to experiment
with new transportation technologies."

What was your very first impression about HYPED?

In October 2017 I attended the launch presentation for HYPED. The first impression I got from the society was the intense drive and passion for bringing modern technology to the market. It's this drive that made me join HYPED, as I also wanted to use my skills to make a positive impact on the world. Secondly, the society appeared as united and welcoming. HYPED seemed like an inclusive community where people have fun while experimenting with engineering and technology.

Which team are you in? What is your role? Your responsibilities?

Currently, I am in the Halbach team, working on the wheel design and manufacturing process.

How do you see the future of HYPED?

Having been a part of it since October 2017, HYPED has grown the last year tremendously. They have been mentioned in the 150 history timeline memorial wall in Kings Buildings, the Commercial Team was one of the winners of Hyperloop One Global Challenge, and the Outreach team is running STEM workshops aimed for school children. HYPED has had a visible effect at the university and proven that students are capable of doing great things.
Along with the emerging Hyperloop companies worldwide, I hope that HYPED decides to convert to a start-up company in technology consultancy. Either as an independent group or as a sister company for a larger corporation. I think that the knowledge and intelligence gathered in the society will be in high demand in near future regardless if the Hyperloop concept is successful or not.
Simultaneously, I hope that the society continues to participate in the Space X competition and give students a unique hands-on engineering experience.

How do you see the future of Hyperloop technology? What are your predictions/expectations?

In July 2017, Hyperloop One completed their second successful test of the pod in the DevLoop test track in California. Last month Virgin Hyperloop One pod during the UEA Innovation Month. Finally, last year TU Delft Hyperloop team built a test track funded by the Netherlands government.
I think the world is ready to experiment with new transportation technologies. Due to climate changes caused by global warming, there is a need to migrate away from modes of transport depending on fossil fuels. The Hyperloop technology proposes a solution and has already been stated as the 5th mode of transportation. Therefore the technology has been attracting engineers, investors and gained large interest by the public. I think that the biggest problem with the technology is managing to create a near-perfect vacuum over hundreds of kilometres. In the first instance, I expect that Hyperloop will primarily be used for transport of freight and supplementing the e-commerce industry.

What is the most challenging for you in HYPED?

At first, I was a part of the Commercial Team working on the Hyperloop One Global Challenge. This year I decided to take part in the technical team. Being a part of the Halbach team is extremely exciting because we are trying to build a propulsion system that has not been used in the competition previously.
However, the most significant challenge I have had in HYPED is being the only girl in my group.  First socialising is hard because I don't understand their humour or "banter". Neither do I share the a lot of the same interests as my teammates. At times, this can feel isolating and hard to deal with.
Secondly, I found it hard to get my ideas accepted. At times I have raised useful points which have been completely ignored or picked up when presented by one of my male team mates. These experience are destructive to your confidence and creativity. As a result, at the start, I developed an imposter syndrome.  I was convinced that everyone else, especially the boys were always better than me.

What do you like the most about HYPED?

For me, Hyperloop is a prominent community with enthusiastic and geeky students who are keen on spending their free time on actualising Elon Musk's Hyperloop
I enjoy that HYPED has become a platform for innovative ideas, geeky culture and ambitious projects. Through the Hyperloop competition, I have met like-minded people, and the best element is sharing these exceptional memories.

Your most memorable moment or story in HYPED?

The Hyperloop One Global Challenge in Amsterdam. Presenting at a professional technology exhibition was a valuable experience. I gained an insight into how projects are introduced to investors, political bodies and governments. The event was my first introduction to professional networking.  During the day, I got the opportunity to chat with the UK Minister of Transport, the technical officer at Hyperloop and network with the Hyperloop Team from Delft University.

Has HYPED affected your personality? If so, how?

HYPED has helped to gain the confidence to push myself to try things I never thought I would be able to do. I believe that this is the best way to grow and HYPED offers an exceptional platform for students to develop and challenge themselves. From the exposure to real-life engineering, HYPED has helped me increase my confidence when working in technology. From my time in the commercial team, I became more confident in presenting in front of a large audience and discovered the essential qualities of good leadership from Carolina Toczycka.
As a woman in the technical team, my experiences have helped me enhance my self-learning abilities including developing strong persistence and dedication. Accordingly,  I hope that other women in technical groups regardless of how difficult it feels at times, don't give up. Because for me, being able to inspire the next generation of HYPED women has become my most important motivation. Therefore, I hope that all the girls in HYPED continue to propose solutions, ask questions and keep learning.

What are the biggest improvements from your point of view?

I think the structure of the society has become more efficient. The creation of sub team makes the division of work load easier and ensures better progress. The overall communication in society has been enhanced by the Big Team Meetings and the Big Technical Team Meetings. I feel that everyone have a general overview of what is going on in different teams.