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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