November 17, 2014

Cornell Students Win Theme Park Design Contest

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By MOLLY KARR

Despite not being present at the event, the Theme Park Engineering Group, a new club at Cornell, won their first competition at Ryerson University earlier this month.

Ronnie Forster ’17, president of the group, said the team collaborated to prepare after being notified about the competition — which includes various teams designing a roller coaster and creating a thrill ride modification — only a week before it was to occur.

“We spent the Saturday in Upson Hall for 10 and a half hours completing our projects and presenting them via Skype to judges including three professionals that have experience in the industry,” Forster said.

The Cornellians competed virtually due to time restrictions, according to Forster.

Another component of the competition included a curriculum design challenge, according to Forster.

“We had to use the classes we have present at Cornell and a couple of proposed classes to create a college major that would meet [Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology] accreditation requirements,” Forster said.

Athith Krishna ’17, head of competitions for the team, stressed the importance of the group’s debut at Ryerson.

“This contest was our first competitive endeavor as a club, so we really wanted to make a mark at this contest — and we did,” Krishna said.

Forster added the group initially came together after he attempted to find other Cornellians who shared his interest in roller coaster mechanics.

“I wanted to continue exploring my interests in the industry and be able to share my experiences with others,” Foster said. “None of the clubs that were already present at Cornell had exactly what I was looking for, so I decided to make my own,” he said.

According to Forster, word about the possible club spread through a Facebook group that he created. Despite the group’s name, Krishna said interest in the club was not only limited to those who were engineering majors.

“The ‘engineering’ in the name of the club does not signify the major that a member pursues, but it highlights the objective of the club,” said Krishna, who is planning to major in electrical and computer engineering. “We have members [in majors such as] design and environmental analysis, communication and biology.”

­Soon, Forster said, there were enough students in the group that an executive board was needed.

“Instead of positions like vice president and secretary, we have positions according the job that is actually being done, [such as] head of competitions, head of corporate relations and so on,” Forster said. “This makes the club extremely focused on the work it does instead of worrying too much about the politics.”

Forster added the club has a goal of expanding membership and is looking to hold its own competition next semester.

“[The] Ryerson [competition] paved a great path for the potential of integrating amusement industry related opportunities into college education,” he said. “We hope to use to make our competition just as successful.”

Forster said the group plans on taking a trip to a theme park — as soon as the weather gets warmer.

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