So you want to become a designer...?

Well, here I am in college: a position in life to really control my future. Like many, I have always hoped that being a coaster designer/engineer could be in my future. A few things I'd like know:

1. How viable is it, even with a great GPA coming from a prestigious university?

2. Would I want to get BS in engineering? Or should I be taking classes in architecture?

3. Is there some graduate degree that would increase my marketability?

4. What other vocations, if any, at least somewhat parallel the coaster design job? [All I can think of is architecture.]


Jeff's avatar
This will answer a lot of your questions...

The problem is that it's such a small business. That sounds funny to say in a business that builds $25 million rides and entertains hundreds of millions of visitors every year, but the game is small when it comes to roller coaster design and manufacturing. Most of the people doing it today are entrepreneurs.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

janfrederick's avatar
So go make a bundle of money in architecture and make the cross over on your own. ;)

"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
Pagoda Gift Shop's avatar
In a way, I'd think it would be easier to get a job at a park and work your way up to a position in planning and design. You certainly don't get paid as much, but then you get to help design stuff...sort of.
Gravity Group Designers have far from made their living on designing only coasters. Even back in the Dinn days if someone wanted a house designed, They did it and built it.

Houses, buildings, foundations.


coasterqueenTRN's avatar
I feel a new reality show brewing, like The Apprentice. ;)

Good luck to ya coasterMNguy!


*** Edited 1/9/2008 1:38:51 AM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***

Thank you all for your responses.
I e-mailed B&M a year back or so about the same thing and they said that electrical and mechanical engineering were the best to take but I am planning on becoming an oncologist so that dream ended in Algebra II.

Bolliger/Mabillard for President in '08 NOT Dinn/Summers

I would also suggest checking out the GCI intern site to learn from college students doing exactly what you're hoping for.

I survived a Japanese typhoon and the Togo flat ride of death!!!!!!
the actual field of study would be "engineering physics." See if you can find a school that offers that.

structural, civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering will get you a job with a broader horizon probably doing consultant work for architecture firms. I personally work with mechanical, civil, and electrical engineers (im an architect) and I haven't met anyone that has done a project on a rollercoaster.

An architect is not an engineer so I wouldnt look into that outlet. You might be able to get away with it being a structural engineer but because it involves physics, you would still need an engineer with a degree in physics to do the actual design of the ride which would involve calculating lateral and g forces and loads, etc...

Wait, *I* have a degree in engineering physics. IMHO, that degree is worthless. (At my school it was a physics degree with a bunch of hours in the engineering disipline you choose. Other schools are probably different.) Maybe not TOTALLY worthless, but most people I knew in the program went on to grad school, so it was good prep for that.

I had to get an MSEE to wipe the eng. phy. degree away.

Pagoda Gift Shop said:
In a way, I'd think it would be easier to get a job at a park and work your way up to a position in planning and design. You certainly don't get paid as much, but then you get to help design stuff...sort of.

I disagree with this unless you work at a very small park for years and get to design where the trash cans are laid out. For the larger parks like CF or SF they generally do all design at a corporate level and ride design is totally contracted out.

Working your way up through the park system is good if you really enjoy being in the park and around rides. I did this for a number of years starting in operations, working long hours with tiny pay but I loved being in the parks. Eventually crossing over into marketing and sales to try to make some solid pay.

I eventually bailed on that because the park/product suffered so much under the add a new coaster, cut staff formula of an incompetant corporate management team. Selling a dirty, understaffed park and refunding clients constantly due to serious problems with events really cuts into comissions..

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