A Farewell to Sunbury

By , August 10, 2018
Jack Ballard

After a long and fun summer, it has unfortunately come time for me to say goodbye to Great Coasters. It’s sad to leave, but, as they say, tis better to have coasted and braked than to never have coasted at all. I’ve made a lot of friends, told a lot of jokes (although people only laughed at some), lifted a lot of steel beams, and drawn stamp labels on a lot of parts, and it’s been a fantastic experience. Here are some of my favorite projects I have worked on over this summer.

Inventory: Sure, counting endless amounts of train parts doesn’t seem all that glamorous right? But after a while I realized that meticulously counting every single Millennium Flyer part was a great way to learn what makes these trains roll (and coast). This also required careful planning and documentation, both of which are important skills in the engineering world. Finally, creating an inventory tracking spreadsheet that updated with the arrival of part orders and departure of shipments was a great way to bring this project full circle, and will hopefully ensure that in the future, extensive inventory will not need to be taken again.


My good friends Chay and Krish inventorying it up

FredX: Helping the engineers facilitate GCI’s biannual outreach event, FredX was a fantastic way to meet fellow roller coaster nerds and budding roller coaster engineers like myself. Every attendee had a unique story, skillset, and favorite GCI to share (team Thunderhead all the way). After the events at the office, we all went to Knoebels to nerd out together on a backstage tour of the Phoenix and Flying Turns. I’m looking forward to crossing paths with many of these people again in the future.


All the Purdue Peeps at FredX

Bent Tracking: One of the most impactful things I was able to do this summer was make a spreadsheet that tracked the progress of bent manufacturing for one of our new rides. For those who don’t know, a bent is a cross section of complete structure perpendicular to the direction of travel. Bents are used to categorize the different sections of a ride and organize support beams for that section. This sheet organized all the individual support pieces into their respective bent and sorted by the type of piece, whether it be a batter, post, or whatever. This sheet was also able to catch errors in individual parts and was much more fun to use than my original strategy of meticulously going through each individual piece.

Just like anything in life, this internship had its ups and downs, its airtime moments and mid-course brake runs, but overall, my time at Great Coasters has been wonderful. I’ll miss everyone, but leave hopeful that we will all cross paths again sometime soon. Until next time.


Jack Sig

Greetings from Fabulous Sunbury Pennsylvania!

By , July 24, 2018
Jack Ballard

Hello fellow roller coaster nerds,

My name is Jack Ballard. I’m one of the 2018 summer interns here at the GCI Headquarters. This summer, we’ve been cooking up some big plans for new rides, and I’d love to share them with you! But I can’t, so instead let’s dive into a little background about me.

I am a mechanical engineering student at Purdue University. I’ve lived in the endless corn of Indiana for almost my entire life. Needless to say, the rolling hills (and abundant roller coasters) of Pennsylvania have been a welcome change. Speaking of roller coasters, I’ve been a roller coaster fanatic ever since visiting Universal Studios when I was 10 and riding Dueling Dragons (R.I.P.). Since then I’ve been visiting parks around the globe, playing way too many hours of Roller Coaster Tycoon, and hoping one day I could be on the other side of the tracks, helping create these rides myself. That opportunity finally came this summer and I must say, it’s been an incredible experience.

This summer has consisted of a wide variety of tasks for me and my fellow intern comrades. We’ve done everything from creating a project inventory tracker to lifting and sorting massive steel support beams. It’s been a healthy mix of hard work, sarcasm, and careful problem solving. Here are some of the most important lessons I have learned from this internship so far.

  1. Listen to everyone: Whether it’s the owner of the company, or the steel fabricators down in the shop, everyone has a story to tell and incredibly relevant advice to give. Almost everyone has been doing this longer than me, which means everyone can help me learn even more about roller coasters. When you ask and listen, you learn a lot.
  2. Count your blessings: Like any internship, there are bad days and good days. No matter how difficult the task is, it’s important to take some time to remember that I’m an intern at a company that makes roller coasters. I like to think about what it felt like before I had this job and just how fortunate I’ve been to get opportunities like this. Thoughts like this make the difficult tasks fly by.
  3. Always look for a better way: I’ll explain this one with a story.  A few weeks ago we were given the mind-numbing task of grinding chamfers into almost 15,000 bearing blocks using two steel grinders. It took us about a minute to grind each one, and with two people working, that equals about 125 hours of work. After about a day of this we couldn’t stop thinking that there had to be a better way. We then spent the entire next day designing and testing methods for streamlining this process. After several failed prototypes and with the help of people around the shop, we were able to design a jig which held blocks in place, and use a planar saw to cut chamfers into 22 blocks at a time. We ended up almost quintupling our productivity and were able to finish the task that week. The takeaway from this was that there is almost always a more efficient way to do something. As engineers, it is important to question existing products and processes and always search for opportunities for improvement.


Our Lovely Jig



Your 2018 Summer Interns!

I’ll be back with more updates in the next couple of weeks, but until then, have a Great Coasters day!

Jack Sig

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