Introduction and Life in Sunbury

By , September 21, 2016
Paul Brenckle

Hi everyone, I’m Paul and I’ve been an intern for Great Coasters International since late May. There were some issues with the intern website, so I haven’t been able to post until now. I’ve done a lot of work this summer and have a few things to share.

I’m from Butler, PA, and am studying mechanical engineering at Penn State University. My passion for theme parks began when my family visited the former Six Flags Ohio amusement park, where I rode my first roller coasters. I would spend most of my childhood building my dream rides in Rollercoaster Tycoon or with K’nex, hoping that one day I could do that in real life. Much to my (happy)surprise, I would end up working on them this summer. Here’s a summary of how I ended up at GCI.

In August 2014, I attended GCI’s conference called FREDx (Future Ride Engineers and Designers), to interview for a possible internship. Obviously, I didn’t get a position right away. However, I met some great people and kept in touch. After two years of attending a Penn State branch campus, I transferred to main campus for junior year and joined the Penn State Theme Park Engineering Group (PSU TPEG), which was one of the best decisions I have made. With this group, I attended other conferences, like SkyNEXT, IAAPA, and ASTM F24. I highly recommend attending these conferences, as they are a great way to learn about the industry, find possible internships, and have fun. I was able to reconnect with a few of the GCI engineers at IAAPA and ASTM, and got an offer for a summer internship this past spring.

When I started in May, I was one of four interns in Sunbury. Dan was traveling around the world to help parks get ready to open their new rides, so Mitch – one of the spring interns (also a fellow PSU TPEG member) – stayed to help the new interns get settled in until Dan returned. My first week consisted of assembling guide wheels, filling brochures for the Asian Attractions Expo, and steel fabrication for the new InvadR roller coaster coming to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Until the end of July, Jase and I worked in the fab shop, preparing the steel bents, making brackets, and minimizing waste. Once Scott was transferred to the engineering office, I took his place preparing shipments for the new rides.

These past few weeks have been interesting. I was able to travel to local companies to pick up a few things for the trains with Dan, such as chassis, seatbacks and bolters. We’ve flipped two trains worth of chassis, one for Knott’s and one for Kings Island. Things are coming along nicely. This week I’ve been working with Ryan and Bob to make sure all the hardware, brackets, and lumber are gathered for a repair job starting in the beginning of October. Since everything is ready to ship out, I’ll get to help Dan out with the trains (the most fun part of the job). I probably left out a few things, but this post is getting pretty long.

One last thing before I go. Dan always volunteers at the Elysburg Haunted House and asked us interns for help. We’ve gone out a few times during the week and weekend to help set up a barn. Dan really loves Hall0ween and is constantly thinking of new entertaining ways to scare people. I’ll just say that this year is going to be awesome at the haunted house and I’m excited to help out in every way I can.

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