What made you want to go into the ride industry?
“I went to Cedar Point as a kid and that was my parent’s summer thing. They always took us up there and that's where I fell in love with it. That's where my first job was. I became an operator. I ran the roller coaster. The first one I operated was Steel Vengeance.”
It seems like that's a mechanical engineering job. So how did you get involved with controls?
“My dad is also an electrical engineer. He always pointed out to me how electrical engineering is used. I’ve been using PLC since I was 10. It was an easy jump to make. Not a lot of people think about what electrical engineers do because we're very much in the background. We don't really show up in the spotlight much, but we basically do everything from the motors to the sensors.”
How did you find your position at IOE?
“I found them just by Googling. I reached out to them directly and they didn't run away. So here I am now. It's a high stress job, but it's really enjoyable. They are always trying to get us to reach outside our comfort zone and just try new things. The best example I can give is a project the company was working on that was just not coming together. I was given the opportunity to dive in, started fighting the issues and managed to figure it out. Dr. LeBlanc taught me that someone will figure it out, so it might as well be me.”
Why is it a high stress job?
“Safety first of all. We've got people's lives in our hands.
“I worked on 10 rides this summer. We’re constantly travelling everywhere. Each ride is its own semi-unique system; so we design a control system for the ride. It's basically an industrial control system that we program. We get a nice mix of designing for new rides and retrofitting old ones. It is about 50/50.”
Does it keep you up at night worrying about safety?
“No. The safety tests we do are through. We're able to trust our process. We test everything and design the systems so that the ride will work the same now as it will 10 years from now. In a retrofit project, usually we'll add extra sensors or double up the sensors that are already there to make sure the ride meets modern safety standards.”