2017 Spring Internship

By , July 27, 2017
Kyle Wilson

After spending the last five months as an intern at GCII’s Sunbury headquarters, it’s about time that I finally contribute to the blog! I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone for what has certainly been the most eventful time period of my professional life thus far.

From the day I first accepted the position, it was quite difficult to really know what I was getting myself into. In fact, five months in I still can’t really say that I know what to expect on a day to day basis. While some may see this as a downside, it has actually allowed me to have numerous different beneficial experiences during my time here that I otherwise would not have had. That being said, however, for this reason it will be incredibly hard to wrap up this past semester in just one post, but I will try my best to give a snapshot of what I have been up to the last five months!

Starting with the very first day, the other interns and myself immediately got to work on helping to make 2017′s four new rides (at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Kings Island, OCT Chengdu, and OCT Chongqing) a reality. For some of us, our first task was to help Todd, one of our Mechanical Supervisors, assemble actuators used for some of the magnetic brakes on these coasters. The idea behind these actuators is pretty simple: based on the speed of the train, the actuators will move a strong magnet (StRoNg MaGnEt) into or out of the path of a fin bolted onto the bottom of the train made of a specific copper alloy. This basically introduces or minimizes the braking force caused by the eddy currents induced in the fin. This was the first experience I had assembling something of this size and complexity, and served as a suitable precursor of much of what was to come.

We worked on these actuators for the first couple of weeks, before some of us broke off to work on various other areas of need. Personally, I most commonly worked back and forth between assembling a few basic train parts and helping Todd gather and inspect some of the parts for many of the mechanical systems seen on the 2017 coasters. One of these systems, for example, was the transfer table which is used to transfer trains onto or off of the main track for various reasons, including daily train inspection. In addition, this also gave me the opportunity to occasionally help make notes for drawings and/or make suggestions for potential changes to how the parts are specified within them.

Part of the way through February, all five of the interns began working almost entirely on helping Dan, GCII’s Millennium Flyer mechanic, produce the nine Millennium Flyer trains for this year’s new rides with the exception of the trains for Busch Gardens Williamsburg and with the addition of two new trains for Wildcat at Lake Compounce. This was a very difficult (requiring long hours and a steep learning curve), yet incredibly beneficial experience. For me, I feel as though I now have a much better physical understanding of the design and assembly of a ride and the considerations one must make in doing so. During this time, we also had the pleasure of spending some time with Senior Engineer, Adam House, who offered us quite a bit of insight into the design of GCI’s coasters, our careers, and engineering in general.

This long stretch of working on trains started to slow up towards the beginning of April. Around this time, I also had my first opportunity to work (though briefly) on site! I made a trip with Jerry, our Mechanical Installation Supervisor, to help install a new Platen system specifically designed for the Millennium Flyer trains we were building for Wildcat at Lake Compounce. For those who don’t know, the Platen is essentially a rectangular tube located in the station that is moved up and down by a series of short stroke pneumatic cylinders. Without going into too much detail, when the train is sitting in the station this tube engages a mechanism on the train that unlocks the restraints. We spent the better part of two days working to install this system. It was an experience that was surely different than what I was used to and I learned quite a bit about mechanical installation in the process.

The following week, I had another incredible experience on site, this time with the other four interns, as we embarked on a trip to Kings Island to install one of the final pieces for the theming on the trains. This was a very different experience from being at Lake Compounce, as it was the first time I had been on the site of a ride that was still being constructed as a brand new ride, as opposed to simply a ride being renovated. From walking around the site and talking to many of the people who were working there on a day to day basis, I believe we all learned a tremendous amount about the design and construction of a ride. Due to the timing of this visit, we also had the incredible pleasure of experiencing the ride first hand while it was being tested and commissioned!

More recently, much of the work that I did involved helping to organize the procurement and shipment of all of the parts and hardware used for the mechanical systems of future GCII projects. This is similar to some of the work I did on the 2017 rides, but this time in much greater detail, as I was already familiar with many of the parts involved with these systems. This gave me another great opportunity to truly learn, analyze, and understand the interaction of all of the parts involved with the mechanical operation of the ride.

Overall, my semester spent at GCII was an incredibly unique experience. I will never forget the time I spent as a Great Coasters Intern, all that I have learned from the experiences I had, and the spectacular memories I made along the way. As I move on from this experience to the next, I cannot thank those who I was involved with during my time here enough and I look forward to continuing to make strides toward reaching my goals!

Kyle Wilson Signiture


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