RIT Theme Park Enthusiasts sweep awards in national engineering competition

They also came away with offers of internships at Universal Creative

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Members of RIT’s Theme Park Enthusiasts who won design competitions in Orlando (left to right): Chris Brucker, Mike Troise, Robert Cybulski, Caroline Kruse, Emily O’Connor and David Swerzenski.

Rollercoaster lovers are probably used to ups and downs, but six members of Rochester Institute of Technology’s Theme Park Enthusiasts made a clean sweep in Orlando, Fla., by winning every award in a national competition to design amusement park rides.

The Ryerson Invitational Thrill Design Competition, hosted by Universal Creative, invited teams from four colleges to create theme park rides or make modifications to existing rides.

“We’ve all been dreaming of jobs and internships in the field. I think we’re all in shock of how well the trip went,” said Robert Cybulski, the club’s president and a fourth-year mechanical engineering major from Lancaster, Pa.

Other members of the team are:

  • Chris Brucker, an architecture graduate student from Schenectady, N.Y.
  • Caroline Kruse, a fourth-year mechanical engineering major from Washington Crossing, Pa.
  • Emily O’Connor, a fourth-year applied statistics and economics major from Barre, Vt.
  • David Swerzenski, a fifth-year mechanical engineering major from Oak Ridge, N.J.
  • Mike Troise, a fourth-year mechanical engineering major from White Plains, N.Y.

The teams had three challenges to finish. Two tasks were given prior to the competition, although one was altered after they arrived in Orlando. One task had them retrofitting a Ferris wheel to keep children in open gondolas, one had them design a rollercoaster that can’t go faster than 40 mph, and one task had them redesign the Teacups ride to make it more appealing to teenagers.

They were judged for their innovativeness, presentation skills and effectiveness.

There were awards for each challenge and an overall award; the RIT team won all four. And they were surprised with offers of internships by Universal Creative, the research and development group responsible for designing rides and attractions for Universal Parks & Resorts theme parks.

“Our teamwork was there, we are all into amusement parks and we focused on the big picture—from the capacity of the rides to the story line to the stress analysis,” Cybulski said. “RIT’s co-op experience helped us learn about the real-world challenges.”

RIT’s Theme Park Enthusiasts club was founded nearly three years ago and this was the first year they entered the competition. The other teams were from Ryerson University in Toronto, Drexel University in Philadelphia and the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

The competition was established in 2014 to build networks of students with professional interest in the attractions industry, said Kathryn Woodcock, a competition judge and director of the THRILL Laboratory and associate professor of human factors engineering/ergonomics and safety at Ryerson.

“The RIT team showed presentation flair, an obvious passion for theme parks, great teamwork and attention to detail in responding to the criteria for each challenge,” Woodcock said. “It was an outstanding performance by a first-time competitor and all of us look forward to seeing the RIT team as they develop their talents and build opportunities in this exciting industry.”

The competition was held Nov. 11-14 and was held prior to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions annual exposition there. The students made their presentations to senior staff at Universal Creative.

“Every company was there that sells rides, makes rollercoasters, stuffed animals, you name it…this was a great opportunity to get our foot in the door,” Cybulski said.

“I believe the most important aspect of this competition was meeting and networking with the leaders of the amusement industry,” Brucker said. “It was a lot of fun, even though we pulled a few late nights until 3 and 4 a.m. working on the presentations.”

They also received free passes to Universal Resort after the competition.

Their trip was made possible by RIT’s mechanical engineering department, Student Government and the Center for Campus Life.