ASTM in Arizona

By , October 27, 2016
Tyler Mullins

I just passed the two-month mark interning at Great Coasters and my time here has been phenomenal. I’ve learned so much and have had a lot of opportunities to work with Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s InvadR and Kings Island’s Mystic Timbers, alongside a small assignment for one of two coasters coming to China next year. But while everything in the office has been great, today I’m writing about something out of the office – 1,800 miles out of the office, that is. Scottsdale, Arizona.

What’s in Scottsdale, Arizona? Well, last week there was an assortment of roller coaster engineers, theme park owners and operators, and ambitious students pursuing their dreams. That’s because Scottsdale was home to ASTM International’s F24 committee on amusement rides and devices.

For those unfamiliar, ASTM International is a standards organization that publishes technical standards for almost anything imaginable – construction vehicles, sports equipment, toys, and, yes, amusement parks. And to keep these standards updated and relevant the committee meets bi-annually. I had the opportunity to take a couple days off work last week and join one of these meetings, flying out Wednesday evening and staying in Arizona through the weekend.

Here are some of the highlights from the conference…

  • Networking with Industry Professionals – As mentioned, there was no shortage of ride engineers and park owners and operators. Most major ride companies were present, from those that create towering roller coasters to those that manufacture children’s rides. And, as someone whose dream job is in the amusement industry, this was a fantastic opportunity to network and make connections.
  • Meeting Other Students with a Similar Passion – Students from around the country regularly attend these conferences to learn more about the industry and network. I joined two fellow Ohio State students and had the opportunity to meet others from Drexel, Cal Poly, Penn State, and more. Meeting fellow students is one of my favorite things about ASTM, as it typically leads to super-nerdy conversations about roller coasters and sharing our experience thus far in the industry. Plus, as was phrased by GCI’s own Adam Yerdon over the summer, “These are the people you’ll be working with someday in the industry,” so no time like the present to get to know them.
  • Learning About Different Standards – Networking with industry professionals and other students is great, but the reason behind these conferences is the standards. I sat-in on sessions over fall protection, station guarding, adventure attractions, aquatic play, and waterslides… and that was all within the first day. There are different standards for different types of rides and attractions and the list keeps growing as the amusement industry continues to evolve.
  • Participating and Contributing in Sessions – While engineers perform the majority of the work in these sessions, students are welcome to sit-in on the sessions and contribute. Everyone was very accepting and patient with us undergrads, explaining things in more detail when needed and encouraging us to participate in the sessions and share our opinions and experience. I even joined a task group at one session, meaning I’ll be working with a team to help draft language for some new standards. I’m really excited for that opportunity.

If you have an interest in the industry and hope to someday work as a roller coaster engineer or similar, I strongly encourage you to look into attending an ASTM conference. I had a fantastic experience this year and I’m super grateful I had the chance to go. It was a great opportunity to network and learn, plus the 90-something-degrees in Arizona felt much better than the colder temperatures here in the Midwest.

I’ve only been back for half-a-week but I’m already looking forward to the next conference. It’ll be in New Orleans in February and I plan to take off from school to attend, so if you see me there be sure to say hi!


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