As With All Things…

By , January 23, 2015
Sean Jurado

…this too must pass.

Sadly, it’s that time. Tomorrow’s my last day here at Great Coasters, so I figured I’d toss up one last blog post. I’ll leave the trains to Matt, since he’ll get to see them through to completion.

I’ve definitely learned a lot in my time here at GCII, about the trains and the structure of course, but also about the industry and business and running a company in general. I’ve spent a lot of time asking questions, but also a lot of time quietly listening and observing, and I can point to a lot of things I’ve learned from just that; more than I really have time to discuss here, and certainly more than I can consciously remember and articulate.

As an example:

A lot goes into a quality product. – You can have the best design in the world, but unless you back that up with quality materials and parts, attention to detail, and people who care, your product will turn out pretty terrible.  I saw a lot of the attention to detail in my time here. Each part has pretty exacting specifications, both for the quality of material and the exactness of the machining, so we often have had to go over each part to ensure it’s up to snuff (especially on the larger parts like the chassis).

That’s not everything of course, but so much of what I’ve learned are subtle things that aren’t easy to put into words, so one example will suffice.

I’d like to take this final opportunity to thank everyone at GCII for a fantastic internship. I’d specifically like to thank Dan for putting up with my (at times) incessant questions, everybody who was involved with FREDx for running and setting up that, and Clair as the head honcho for letting me intern here. This has been an amazing experience, and I ‘ll definitely miss my time at GCII. I do hope to see everyone here again (I’m planning on going to IAAPA next fall, but that’s not what I’m talking about).

Thanks again to everyone, I wouldn’t trade this internship for the world


The End?

By , December 29, 2014
Sean Jurado

Well my internship was supposed to end last Tuesday… Surprise! I’m still here. My spring semester starts late, and things are really picking up around here, so I got an extension til mid-January. No complaints here.

Anyways, on to important things. Our chassis started coming in a few weeks ago, and Dan and I have been busy tackling them. We’ve got 12 cars with about half of the underside built up, and the rest coming today. It’s been really cool actually building the cars, because I’m getting to see what all the parts I’ve been gathering, building, and shipping out actually do, and where they go.

It’s also nice from and engineering side of things, because I’m asking Dan questions (practically every other part) about why things are shaped the way they are, what each flange or section is for, why so much seemingly extra material, stuff like that. The most common answers are strength, and fail-safes. In the unlikely event that a wheel is lost, that protrusion from the chassis will catch the track, or, to make the car extra stable, this section was beefed up to be extra strong. Obviously, I haven’t seen the math that goes into designing these things, but my intuition from looking at them and asking questions is that they’re plenty strong, and thus safe. When talking about how safe coasters are, I’ve heard it said that you’re more likely to get in an accident on the drive to the park, than on any of the rides in the park. Looking at everything here, I believe it with no hesitation.

That about wraps it up for now, we’ve got a lot of train building to get to, but I’ll be back here at least once more before I leave.

Oh, and we’ll have another intern up here starting next week, so look forward to him posting stuff soon after

Back to work!

Halfway Point: Reflections and Lessons Learned

By , October 31, 2014
Sean Jurado

Wow, I’m already halfway through this internship. When did that happen?

The last several weeks have been filled up with getting the IAPPA trade show cars ready (no pics til after the show, that would be spoilers, and who likes those anyways?), filling orders, and general maintenance of the shop. We’ve started getting in parts for an upcoming job. Stay tuned through our official news channels for more on that.

Bit of  a change in pace today as far as what I’m going to talk about here. A few weeks ago, we received some old parts from one of our parks. The plan was to get them refurbished, but first we had to see if they were any good, or if they were just too worn out to be salvaged. So I got to go at them with a set of calipers and check the wear of some of the holes. It was an easy enough task, but what was cool about it was getting a hands on look and feel for what wear and tear of components looks like. It’s definitely something different to see the actual effects of several years of use. It’s amazing how little room there is for error on these trains. We’re talking about gaps on the order of 10^(-3) in. causing a part to be unacceptable. That’s really small. For the uninitiated, we’re talking about a few sheets of paper in thickness. To me, that scale seems even more tiny, as I’m studying structural engineering, so I’m used to dealing with distances on the order of 10s of feet down to 0.1s of feet. The idea of measuring down to even the inch is often unnecessary. That’s really precise. I guess that’s why they’re so safe.

Speaking of safety, I’ve been looking at and learning about all the safety features we have on these trains. We’re talking about backups for the backups. Take the upstop wheel for instance. This wheel rides underneath the track and stops the car from coming off the track when it crests a hill. Now, if you design the ride just right, gravity will be enough to keep the car on the tracks without the aid of such wheels (if you ever hear people talking about pulling G’s, positive or negative, this kind of thing is what they’re talking about). Doesn’t matter, we have upstop wheels on all of our rides, but there’s a backup for that backup. The are 4 layers of redundancy for keeping the train where it belongs and its passengers safe.

I’m not going to lie, that idea, the multiple redundancy, fascinates me. I love getting to see or figure out how something works; that’s a large part of why I am going to be an engineer. I’m really enjoying my time here, but I do look forward to the day that I can work in an engineering office (I’d love for that to be here at GCII of course). Still, even though I’m doing more shop work and not really looking at the engineering side, it’s still worth it to be here and working on roller coasters at all.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with Jake a few weeks ago. He was telling me about some of the rides he’s worked on and some of his experiences he’s had in this industry. Jake’s one of our field supervisors, so his job is to manage and run a project. On site, he’s at the top of the food chain. He was saying that even though it’s difficult, exhausting work, far from home and family, and all the other trials and difficulties that come with it (it is a large construction project after all), that in the end it’s all made worth it by that first ride of a brand new coaster. Getting to be on that inaugural train is a special treat, and there’s no other way to get it. Couple that with the immense pride and satisfaction in a job well done, and you’ve got an amazing feeling that rivals the thrill of the ride itself (I’m paraphrasing of course, but I think the message remains intact). That really resonated with me, because I’ve felt some similar things from my side as a newbie (or, a few months ago, as a hopeful outsider). I’ve felt and known that it’d be worth working longer hours, or moving somewhere unexpected if necessary to get into and stay in this industry

So, what’s next? No idea, but I’m looking forward to it.

Weeks III + IV

By , October 6, 2014
Sean Jurado

Not as much shop time these past two weeks. I’ve spent a bit of time on the road, picking stuff up from some of our suppliers. We got in some new shelves that I got to assemble. Also had to organize and catalog some of the stuff that goes on there, more so when Dan got back.

End of the week was a little bit more interesting. I got to go through a bunch of drawings and count out the needed train hardware, which isn’t that exciting admittedly, but it did mean that I got to flip through technical drawings for a few hours, which was kinda neat.

Next week we’ll be putting the finishing touches on the car for the IAPPA Trade Show in November.

Week II

By , September 22, 2014
Sean Jurado

Monday afternoon Dan and I headed out to one of our machining partners to drop off some stuff. Tuesday afternoon is spent on even more upstops, before running out of parts to finish any more. Wednesday Dan’s on vacation, so I’m under Brian’s jurisdiction ’til he gets back. We spend the morning stuffing brochures for the trade show next week. That afternoon, Clair gave me the project of updating our web-conferencing software, which takes until Friday at lunch to complete. Interspersed around that task I help Brian get some orders ready (while waiting for people to call me back and such). Friday afternoon I touch up the web conferencing stuff a little, round out another order, before heading back to the upstops, just without the missing parts

Week II Totals:

Upstops: 62

Orders: 3ish

Video Conference Clients installed/updated: 1

Computers Resurrected: 1

Week I

By , September 22, 2014
Sean Jurado

We started with lapbar gear hub assemblies on Monday and moved into upstop wheels after lunch. Tuesday brings more upstop wheels and some guide wheels. Finish the guide wheels on Wednesday and move back to upstops. Friday means back in the shop for, you guessed it, more upstop wheels. Also I go to use the forklift, so that was fun.

Week I Totals:

Gear Hubs: ~20 Left and ~20 Right

Upstops: 58

Guide Wheels: 30

(If you don’t know what any of these parts are, don’t worry, it’s not that important If such understanding is ever crucial to the point I’m making, I’ll provide the necessary background)


By , September 22, 2014
Sean Jurado

Hey everyone! I’m Sean and I’m the newest Great Coasters Intern. I’m from the great state of Maryland, and I go to school at the University of Maryland studying Civil Engineering. This internship is the first part of a dream come true, all I need now is to graduate and come back as a full time design engineer.

The story began back in March when I emailed a bunch of Coaster design firms asking about internships. GCII got back to me saying, ‘Yes, on an as need basis, so send us your resume, and we’ll keep it on file.’

So I did.

Then, in mid-July, I got an email inviting me to an event at their headquarters in early August designed for young professionals and students interested in entering the industry. While there, they would be interviewing for an internship position. Needless to say, I was excited, and wasted no time in signing up. Fast forward to a few weeks after the event, and I got a call offering me the position.

“Ecstatic,” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Neither does “excited,” “thrilled,” or any other synonym or combination of synonyms. It has been my career goal and dream job to design roller coasters since early high school I picked my major in college after seeing what I needed to study to pursue that goal, so this is a pretty big deal to me.

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