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?
There is no one university that offers a preferred curriculum for engineers who will design roller coasters. If there is any one field of engineering that is particularly applicable to roller coaster design, it would have to be mechanical engineering. I have known engineers who design roller coasters with a mechanical, structural and aerospace background. There is also the side of the business that Birket Engineering is in. We do not design the structure, nor do we determine the physical characteristics of the ride. Rather, we control the solenoids and other actuators and monitor the brakes, trains, gates and other systems to ensure safe and efficient ride operation. If this is your interest, you would be wise to pursue either electrical engineering or computer science. All of these degree programs would prepare you for a wide variety of well-paid jobs, even if you do not make it in to a roller coaster design position.
The themed entertainment marketplace, ride design, and roller coaster design in particular are small fields. To enter these fields would require getting a job with one of the roller coaster companies. There are only about ten serious coaster designers, and they only do one or two coasters a year. In the United States there is Arrow, Premier and Inverted Technologies. In Europe there is Intamin, Vekoma, Swartzkopf, and Bolliger & Mabillard. There are a few others that don’t even do one a year.
Math and physics are obviously important. So are all the communication skills. I wish that Americans studied languages as much as Europeans do.