Designing Roller Coasters

Tuesday, August 6, 2002 10:42 PM
Does anyone know of classes, magazines, books, or computer programs that will help me to enrich my understanding of roller coasters, and how they work. Please post any sources you may know of to help me fulfill my dreams of designing exciting coasters for you, the enthusiasts.
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Tuesday, August 6, 2002 11:06 PM

Are you interested in persuing roller coaster designing as a career? I definetly am. I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I don't know what classes to take in college and how to get to where I want to be. I do have the phone number of a man who designs roller coasters (how convienient my mom knows him). When I call him I'll let you know what he says.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2002 1:06 AM

Well, it seems every single Enthusiast under the age of 20 wants to become a coaster designer, so I guess you can expect a lot of competition when the day comes. :)

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So what if the best coaster in Australia is a second hand Arrow?

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Wednesday, August 7, 2002 4:38 AM
Hey one that IS 20 too! =) I just know its gonna take a while to get to that day ...

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Steel - #1 Kumba, #2 Millie, #3 Mantis ||| Wood - #1 Thunderbolt, #2 Villain, #3 Gwazi
"The key to a happy life is moderation" -- Jon Stewart

*** This post was edited by PittDesigner on 8/7/2002. ***

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Wednesday, August 7, 2002 6:06 AM

Your first start would be to get good grades in high school, and try to get into a good engineering college, like MIT.

Do you have any firm in mind that you would like to work for? If you do, rummage around for some phone numbers, and dial. Try to set up an interview with someone, ask a few questions like how they got to where they are, what is their favorite part of the job, what was their hardest struggle into getting into this career, what courses they took in college, etc. Remember, the hardest part of it all is not giving up, and look for good openings. Perhaps you wanted to design wooden roller coasters, then right now you would have a lot of options. You could try to set up an interview with Denise Dinn and ask if there were any job openings in S&S Power's wooden roller coaster devision. Its all about getting your name out there, knowing certain people, and having fun.

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The ice age killed the dinosaurs, we killed ourselves.

*** This post was edited by CobraRoller on 8/7/2002. ***

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Wednesday, August 7, 2002 6:08 AM
A good understanding of physics would help as well. I suck at physics so that would limit my options.
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Wednesday, August 7, 2002 6:17 AM

The most important thing with design will be getting your professional engineering liscense (sp?). So for that, it really doesn't matter what school you go to, no reason to bust your balls at a high end school when you can get a degree from a state school like Pitt (ahem) and after 5 years of work experience in a non-coaster field (this is something that coaster designers look for ... I know a year or two ago, Arrow's site said don't even apply if you don't have your P.E. and 5 years work experience beyond that one), we'd both take the same test to get the same P.E. certificate and at that point it doesn't matter where you graduated from or how good grades you got - just that you graduated, you have that P.E. and you design high quality, economically sound structures and such. At that point, you try and make your break into the coaster field, but without that P.E., you got problems.

I would highly doubt that any coaster company is going to allow interns from college, let alone high school kids bugging them about a job. The liability with these creations we all love is so high, that everyone involved in the project needs to be a master of their trade and not some up-and-coming kid, no matter how much you know. So my advice is keep dreaming, get that P.E., then see about turning your dreams into reality.

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Steel - #1 Kumba, #2 Millie, #3 Mantis ||| Wood - #1 Thunderbolt, #2 Villain, #3 Gwazi
"The key to a happy life is moderation" -- Jon Stewart

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Wednesday, August 7, 2002 6:46 AM
I think we need to distinguish between individuals who devise the concept and theme and desired configuration of a ride from those who actually bring the ideas to fruition on paper. Quite often, the individuals who devise a general idea and theme for a ride are not particularly technically minded. Imagination is more important in the initial stages of a rides development. It is then up to teams of structural, mechanical and electrical engineers to bring the idea to fruition on paper. It's always a team effort!! Basically, if you would settle for being an "imagineer" rather than an "engineer" you should consider a background in art, theatre production, special effects etc....This is how John Wardley...designer of Nemisis and Oblivion got going! In the case of Nemesis and Oblivion, he then deferred to the brains and B&M to bring the rides into reality. Don't despair if you dislike the hard sciences!!

*** This post was edited by BeyondOblivion on 8/7/2002. ***

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Wednesday, August 7, 2002 7:19 AM
you have to take the most advanced math classes available in high school so if you're not great at math forget it. i would actually like designing the themeing for rides which is good pay and you don't need to take ultra hard classes to get the job.

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I love Raging Bull I love Mf I love drachen fire RIP

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Wednesday, August 7, 2002 8:44 AM
I wouldn't say you owuld have to take the most advanced classes, my cousin is a chemical engineer and he didn't take the most advanced classes.

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(Former Signature replaced due to bad joke with accident) The Beast at night-Two peas in a pod?

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Wednesday, August 7, 2002 9:09 AM

auscoasterman said:

Well, it seems every single Enthusiast under the age of 20 wants to become a coaster designer, so I guess you can expect a lot of competition when the day comes.

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So what if the best coaster in Australia is a second hand Arrow?



17 here, and I dont want to be a coaster designer. I want to be a U.S. Marine.

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Rob


"Some people spend an entire LIFETIME wondering if they made a DIFFERENCE. The MARINES don't have that problem." -President Reagan 1985

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Wednesday, August 7, 2002 9:25 AM

PittDesigner said:

The most important thing with design will be getting your professional engineering liscense (sp?). So for that, it really doesn't matter what school you go to, no reason to bust your balls at a high end school when you can get a degree from a state school like Pitt (ahem)

Professional engineering license? Is that like a degree? :-P

Guess who gets the best jobs (and with this market, the only jobs) out of school? The people from high end schools. And you better believe that Arrow, S&S, or even the overseas based companies will look VERY closely at what degrees you have and where they came from. Classroom experience is just as important as field experience in most engineering fields.

I really think the best way to go about it is not figure out what classes you have to take to be a roller coaster designer, but figure out what classes you want to take (mechanical engineering, civil engineering, materials, electrical engineering, software engineering, etc. etc.) and if those happen to be useful to a roller coaster company, then by all means take the job. The last thing you want to do is take classes you hate, learn stuff you hate and aren't any good at, and then get turned down by the coaster company and have a degree in a field that you don't care about at all, except to build coasters.

Also, good spelling and grammar can't hurt. :-P

Just my 2c.

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A rollercoaster? What's that?


*** This post was edited by ApolloAndy on 8/7/2002. ***

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Wednesday, August 7, 2002 9:29 AM
Do what you love, not what you hate. Andy nailed it.
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Wednesday, August 7, 2002 9:33 AM

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone that has encouraged me and for bringing me one step closer to my career in coaster designing. I would like to let you all know that from the age of around 6 I have known that I wanted to design coasters. I am now 15 and still hope to design these ultimate scream machines. I have almost every book I can find that has even pictures of roller coasters, I have nearly 5 movies about coasters (not including all the shows I have recorded), and I have about 6 games that include roller coasters. I began drawing coasters at around 10 and still do to this day. My drawings now surpass those from 5 years ago, but are still in need of professional help. About 3 years ago, I contacted Morgan Manufacturing in Bay Area, California, who then sent me a 300 page package including the tools I will need to succeed in this buisness. In the eighth grade I did a Science Fair project on roller coasters, and how to calculate the g-forces at the bottom of drops. After hours of researching the internet and asking dozens of questions, I was able to find the g-forces at the bottom of drops that I customized to fit the experiment. Now i look to work for a major roller coaster business at around 25 or so. After that I hope to begin my own buisness and make coasters longer, scarier, and more enjoyable to the riders. Again, I thank all of you who have hlped me in providing what you know to help me strive for my dream. Thank You.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2002 9:36 AM

Teenage Ninja said:
"I wouldn't say you owuld have to take the most advanced classes, my cousin is a chemical engineer and he didn't take the most advanced classes.

wanna bet......

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Wednesday, August 7, 2002 10:18 AM
Its all a game of luck and chance and simply a matter of being in the right place and the right time. Ask employees of any major firm. I bet you very few will tell you that they had a life long dream of being a roller coaster designer. Its something that came along in their life. Its just not a very big market nor will it ever be. Its safe to compare it to something like a professional football player, evryone and their dog wants to do it but only a few ever get to. I myself considered the profession and even made it into one of the best engineering schools in america(Drexel U). However, i decided to skip engineering and study design. if ur getting into engineering for the sole purpose of designing roller coasters thats a very bad idea. However, if u love the entire field of engineering and wanna focus on roller coaster designs, then go for it. But dont make a mistake and study enginnering just to design roller coasters and really not give a crap about anything else relating to engineering. My words are coming from someone who had the same point of view and dream as yourself, i am just repeating to you the things i was told.

*** This post was edited by DorneyDante on 8/7/2002. ***

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Wednesday, August 7, 2002 11:29 AM

Best bet, Structural and Mechanical Engineering at Stanford, MIT, CIT, or Georiga Tech. Then get some experience on a lot of non-coaster projects before you send out your application to a company in the Amusement Park Industry.

Read how Stengel got started of here. And no, he wasn't drawing coasters on some napkins at Dennys when Anton Schwarzkopf walked up to his table and said "hey buddy, that looks pretty good."

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*** This post was edited by Vertigo on 8/7/2002. ***

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Wednesday, August 7, 2002 12:59 PM

ApolloAndy said:

Professional engineering license? Is that like a degree? :-P

Guess who gets the best jobs (and with this market, the only jobs) out of school? The people from high end schools. And you better believe that Arrow, S&S, or even the overseas based companies will look VERY closely at what degrees you have and where they came from. Classroom experience is just as important as field experience in most engineering fields.



A PE license is a qualification that engineers can get a few years out of school (assuming they have taken the FE exam -- like board or licensing exams in other majors but not required). Basically, for anyone in design or consulting or any other job that would require them to make significant technical decisions (like designing coasters) a PE license is a must. Prof. Engineer approval is required by law on a lot of design projects (at least in the industry I'm interning in) so such firms are reluctant to hire folks who aren't licensed. But it does happen, as I have friends who recently went to work for design-build companies right out of school. But in general, that PE stuff is not a concern until your later years of college.

The school someone graduates from really doesn't make much difference in engineering unless you're looking at graduate school, in which case the reputation of the school is a huge factor. I've found that companies look at grades and courses taken when hiring for internship and new-grad positions and barely pay any attention to the school. I made the mistake of going to a big-name university out of high school, and now I'm back at my lesser-known (and MUCH cheaper) home-state university because I found that the school name doesn't matter that much to employers. As far as job market, some sectors (like telecom) may be struggling right now but engineering as a whole is doing very well. And almost every company tends to recruit and hire within their region, so don't think you'll get left out by going to a smaller or less prestigous (sp?) school.

Classroom experience is not even close to as important as field experience beyond the first couple of years working. Classes and grades help you get your first job and are important during that interview process, but after that it's all field experience. Most, if not all, engineering companies just care that you have an ABET-accredited degree, and maybe a PE license (depending on the job), and then they move on to work experience. And it's a well-known fact that engineers use very little of the actual knowledge they gained in classes. I heard it put this way once: classes give a broad background and teach you "how to learn", and the employer teaches you what they want you to know once you're hired. I can say from my very limited experience working in the field that neither of my jobs have entailed doing much of anything I did in class -- the concepts are there but that's it; the rest I've had to learn through training or experience.

That's probably boring to most of you, but for once I saw a chance to respond and actually know what I'm talking about so I had to take it. :) Hope that helps....

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PLEASE READ: This post wasn't meant to offend or anger anyone; I apologize in advance if it does. So please don't post a reply just to rant about it. :)

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Wednesday, August 7, 2002 1:47 PM
19, and too wish to be a ride designer. However, due to the fact I dislike the tediousness of math and physics, even though I feel I am decent to good at both, I know I will probably never do it. (Guess I will stick with trying to get in park administration).
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Wednesday, August 7, 2002 2:36 PM

I'm 16, and I'm really into math and physics classes (physics next year). Both my parents are engineers, so I guess it could 'run in the blood'. I'm hoping I could get into the coaster industry, but knowing how specialized it is, I'd settle for some other type of engineering.

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Tommy Penner - Variable X
Cedar Point FanBoy since 2001.

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