This paper presents a novel controller for drill string systems based on a super-twisting sliding mode theory. The aim is to eliminate the stick-slip vibration and maintain a constant drill string velocity at the desired reference value. The proposed controller inherently attenuates the torsional vibration while ensuring the stability and high efficiency of the drill string. A discontinuous lumped-parameter torsional model of vertical drill strings based on four components (rotary table, drill pipes, drill collars and drill bit) is considered. The Karnopp friction model is adopted to simulate the nonlinear bit-rock interaction phenomena. In order to provide a more accurate evaluation, the proposed drill string controller is implemented with the induction motor, a variable frequency drive and a gearbox to closely mirror the real environment of oil well drill strings. The increasing demand for prototyping and testing high-power plants in realistic and safe environments has led to the advancement of new types of experimental investigations without hurting the real system or building a small-scale prototype for testing. The dynamic performance of the proposed controller has been investigated with MATLAB software as well as in a novel hardware in-the-loop (HIL) testing platform. A power plant is modeled and implemented in the real-time simulator OPAL-RT 5600, whereas the controllers are implemented in the dSPACE 1103 control board. The results obtained through simulation and HIL testing demonstrate the feasibility and high performance of the proposed controller.