by Mike Troise
This past school year, theme park enthusiasts at Rochester Institute of Technology got some big news. After months of paperwork, a presentation, and a long approval process, the RIT Theme Park Enthusiasts club was finally approved, largely due to the hard work of a good friend of mine, Robert Cybulski. With myself, COASTER-net’s own Danny Miller, and a few other coaster junkies, the club began.
At the presentation in front of the student government committee that decided our fate, we fascinated them with how much potential this club had. The club began with a simple name of “the roller coaster club” which confused them as we entered the room for our presentation. By the end they were blown away with how much more this club truly was going to be, especially with the career focus.
The goal of this club is pretty simple. We wanted a way for theme park enthusiasts to meet and share in their passion for the industry. While the club welcomes all who are interested, we are also putting a larger focus on career paths for various members. Many of them, including myself, hope to work as engineers in the amusement industry, and this club is a great way to begin working towards that goal.
With a few weekly meetings complete, the club has tons of ideas, and a bright future ahead. To begin, we have already been approved for two booths in the main exhibitor area for Imagine RIT. Imagine RIT is RIT’s annual innovation and creativity festival that spans across campus early May every year. Students submit proposals to be able to show off their hard work that they are accomplishing at RIT. One of the highlights of the May 2014 Imagine RIT was a senior design project that was an automatic s’more maker machine. People waited in line for 15 or more minutes just for one s’more from this machine! On May 2nd, 2015 you will be able to find the “Engineering Thrills” exhibit in the Gordon Field House on the RIT campus.
Our exhibit this year has two major components. The first component will be a K’nex theme park using kits donated by club members. We currently have about 15 flat rides and will be using roller coaster components to construct a model of the highly anticipated Twisted Colossus. We will also be displaying No Limits coasters made by club members on a television. However, we will be running no limits in manual operation and will be controlling dispatch, gates, restraints, and more with a custom built control panel. The club recently acquired the metal box we will be using and are working to obtain the buttons and knobs needed. Once the parts are obtained, the mechanical and electrical engineers will get to work.
Imagine RIT is not the only thing our club will be working on in the coming months. We are currently working to plan a trip to Knoebels in May as well as a facility tour of GCI. The club is working on having guest speakers to come in and talk with students about career paths in the amusement industry. RIT even has an alumni who interned at GCI and is currently working as a lead mechanic at Silver Dollar City. Many club members have expressed interest in future trips to IAAPA which will definitely be looked into for future years if we are able to obtain the funding. While sitting at about 15 members strong, we hope this club continues to grow at RIT and that our members are successful in their career goals.