From time to time we are asked questions from students, budding engineers and professionals who are working on projects or planning their careers. We are happy to share some of these questions and our answers in hopes it will make our industry richer in terms of talent and information. If you have a question, go to Contact Us

 

Top 3 Most Frequently Asked Questions:

No. 1 Question – I am currently working on an engineering degree with a focus on Robotics and Controls. I have always wanted to get into the theme park industry, especially on the show controles side. From the research I’ve been doing on the theme park industry, I can tell that Birket Engineering is one of the leaders in the industry. Do you have any advice for a young engineer trying to break into the industry?
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No. 2 Question – I am currently in college studying engineering. I have always had a passion for how amusement rides operate. Please answer the following questions about how I might get into this field.

  1. What can I do, still being young, to get in a better position for this type of work?
  2. How can I apply to your company and when should I do it? For example, in my junior or senior year of college or when?
  3. What are the typical salaries in this industry?
  4. Do you offer any training courses I might be interested in?
  5. My major is computer engineering. What opportunities are there for me in the amusement park/roller coaster field? Who are some other companies like yours who do similar things?
  6. Do you offer internships?

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No. 3 Question – I am an engineering student, and have been asked to interview a professional engineer and write an essay about our conversation. I would appreciate it if you could answer my questions.
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Frequently Asked Questions:

Question – I’m a student majoring in mechanical engineering. I am currently doing a project designing a roller coaster. Presently I’m working on the safety and controls aspects of a roller coaster. Can provide me with a general overview of how a typical safety and controls system works?
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Question – Would you be able to provide me with specific examples of how hydraulics and pneumatics are used in amusement park rides? I am conducting research for a science text book.
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Question – Regarding braking, usually how big is a fin brake and is it usually in the middle or toward the sides?
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Question – I was wondering what is the power requirement of a typical control system?
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Question – I am a high school junior. In our upcoming science symposium, I’m planning a project on the physics of roller coasters. How do I create a model of a roller coaster?
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Question – I am a freshman engineering student at Vanderbilt University and for one of my classes I am creating a web page relating electrical engineering in the entertainment industry. I am planning one web page about how electrical engineering is used in amusement park rides. Is there information you can send me about how electrical engineering is specifically used to design and improve the rides you have worked on?
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Question – I’m 17 years old and I live in Belgium. I’m now studying mathematics and languages (English, French, Dutch, German). I will graduate soon. Is there a university that has a degree in roller coaster engineering?
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Question – I’m 13 years old and I’ve got a science project to do that involves the LIM. I’m thinking of applying the LIM to things other than roller coasters, like maybe subways or even elevators but I don’t know too much about the LIM. Can you help?
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Question – I am writing a paper for an information technologies class. I want to demonstrate what affect new technology has had on the amount of entertainment now available to everyone. Can you explain to me just exactly how far technology has come and what are it benefits?
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Question – I am currently attending a pre-engineering program. They have recently introduced a new program in conjunction with physics. I would attend for three years taking several core physics courses. After three years I would go to a school that has an engineering program and begin an electrical engineering degree. At the completion of the EE degree, I would receive that degree and a degree in physics. Is this a good idea and why? How would it be beneficial in the future, if my over-all plans are to obtain a BSEE and a MSEE? What might the advantages and disadvantages be?
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Question – I am currently a college student majoring in engineering with a desire to design and aid in the construction of roller coasters and theme parks. I am writing because I am curious as to which engineering major best suits my future career goals?
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Question – Do rides use oil, why or why not?
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Question – What happens if the brakes malfunction on a roller coaster?
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Question – How many have died in recent years from amusement park rides?
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Question – What forms of energy are used to run rides and which rides do they run? What kind of special energy equipment is used?
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Question – How big are the motors used to run the roller coasters?
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Question – What is the speed of the fastest ride and where is it? What is the largest ride and where is it?
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Question – Does the government have to approve a ride before it is built?
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Question – Where is the equipment for an amusement park made?
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Question – I am an 11th grade student thinking about which college I want to attend. The subject I am most interested in is physics. I am thinking of applying to mostly engineering schools and the area that interests me the most is the designing of new-age roller coaster rides for theme parks. Would give me some information about which colleges you believe are best in this field?
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Question – I’m Michele and I am studying architecture at University of Venezia Italy. I’m studying theme parks for my university research. I would like to know about Buccaneer Bay at Treasure Island Hotel. What is it that makes the vessel plunge? What is the material used to make the HMS Britannia and Hispaniola? Is it fireproof? How deep is deep the pool? How do the water cannons work, wine barrels explode, and three part hull hit effect work? Is the propane gas under high pressure or low pressure. How is the gas ignited?
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Question – I am in 11th grade and am writing an English paper on roller coasters. Could you give me some information on the costs of building and marketing a rollercoaster?
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Question – Next year I will be a senior in mechanical engineering at Penn State interested in a career focusing on amusement park ride design. I noticed that one of your questions suggested starting with Walt Disney Imagineering, which is where the author of your answer started. I was wondering if you had any suggestions about how to get my foot in the door with an engineering firm specializing in amusement rides?
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Question – I am building a dark ride. I have a choice of using AC or DC power. I am leaning towards DC power, because that is what I see many kiddy trains in malls using. My ride will be similar to the old pretzel dark rides, in which a main guide rail will be the negative side of the circuit and a small bus bar running along the side of this rail will be the positive side of the circuit. Each car will have copper pick-ups to supply power to the motor. My gearing and car design has been completed. I am trying to find someone who can help me decide between AC or DC. The DC motor choice I have is either a 12volt or 24 volt motor. If I use the 12 volt DC motor, I will need 39 amps on the rails, if I use the 12 volt DC motor, I will need 20 amps. I was thinking of using a large automotive battery charger set on continuous to power the rails. If I use the AC option, I will have to step power down from 120 volts to a safe range, and then have a transformer in each car step the power back up to the AC motor. Any guidance or recommendations you can offer me is appreciated. This project has been a labor of love for me and I want to offer a safe, reliable ride system.
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Question – I am doing a 7th grade science fair project on the physics of roller coasters. Can you give me some useful information about this?
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Question – For a school project, I am looking at roller coaster control systems. If you could answer my questions, I would really appreciate it. Does the current system of monitoring roller coaster trains with photo eye sensors and proximity sensors have any limitations? Could it be potentially safer if the exact position of the roller coaster trains where known at all times instead of only knowing when the roller coaster trains passed through a photo eye sensor?
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Question – I’m an eighth grade student and I’d like to be a roller coaster design engineer. What do I need to know?

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