By , January 8, 2010
Eamon Kelly

Hi there, my name is Eamon, and I was recently hired as GCII’s new intern at their Sunbury, PA office. But before I talk about GCII, let me introduce myself. I am a student from the Ohio State University, and am heavily involved in the Theme Park Engineering Group. What we do is anything and everything related to the Theme Park industry. I personally am studying mechanical engineering, and therefore spend my time with design projects and exploring how the rides and coasters we all love work.

My GCII experience began with a trip out to Sunbury to meet, visit, and interview with the folks at GCII. (This trip was with the Theme Park Engineering Group in the fall) When we arrived, we met up with Chris to grab some dinner. After dinner, Chris invited us over to show us around his house and to give us a chance to get to know him and him a chance to meet us. If you’ve ever met Chris, you’ll know that he is quite the story teller, and from his stories I got a chance to see more of the personalities behind the people in the industry. I also learned that the job of ride design and construction entails more traveling than I had imagined it would. There might also have been a story about an epic party in Finland, but if you ever meet Chris I’ll let him tell the story. Also at Chris’s that night was Adam, a former intern who now works full-time. Adam offered insight on what it is like being an intern, and how to find things to do when living in Sunbury.

The next morning we arrived at the office to begin the interview process and the tour. We were graciously allowed to look over ride manuals, ride layouts, etc. and, as an engineer, I felt like a ten year old on Christmas morning. After the intern applicants (myself included) put together part of the locking mechanism on the Millennium Flyer train lap bar and were interviewed, Dan, who works in the shop assembling the trains, showed some of us around. He briefly explained any part we pointed out, and answered our questions about how the trains are built. I can honestly say that after seeing the parts and how they fit together, I had a pretty good idea on how to assemble a Millennium Flyer train.

After we finished up at GCII’s office, Chris offered to give us a tour of Knoebel’s, and, of course, we accepted. Personally it was very interesting visiting Knoebel’s, because I grew up near Cedar Point and have only been to corporate-run parks. It was cool to see a smaller park with a different layout that allowed free roaming; you could visit Knoebel’s and just hang out without paying any money. Also, seeing a park that interweaves with a forest was unique, especially when Chris informed us that at Knoebel’s they make it a point to avoid cutting trees down, even going so far as to let one tree grow through a ceiling! Of course it would have been more exciting if the park were open, but I’m sure now that I’m here for a while I’ll get plenty of chances to go.

My next experience with GCII was out at IAAPA in Vegas. I could talk a lot about that trip, but , as you know, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Needless to say, I was pretty excited when Chris offered me the job, but tried to keep myself calm because I knew I had a month before I would start. Now that I am here, I can offer a little more to you about how we design, fabricate, and construct the best wooden roller coasters in the world.

My first week began with the drive from northern Ohio to central Pennsylvania. When I left, Ohio had just gotten a few inches of snow, so it was slow going in most of Ohio. (To give you an idea, my average speed on the turnpike was around 50) Once in PA, however, the roads were a lot clearer. Upon arriving in PA, I met up with Chris at my new pad, and he gave me a bunch of awesome GCII swag: a hoodie, a hat, a bunch of t-shirts, and even some poster pictures of GCII rides to hang up (sadly those have to go back to the office when I leave). He then took me to the office to meet my “esteemed colleagues.”

In my first week of work, I helped Adam and Dan begin the process of bolting together the upper and lower chassis of the trains. This process involves making sure that the bolts can fit through the holes, putting washers and stop-nuts on, painting the bolts with an orange line and using a torque wrench to insure that the bolts don’t come loose. (The paint is there so that if a nut works itself loose, the paint is no longer in a straight line, and on-staff mechanics at a park can see this immediately and replace the nut and bolt to insure rider safety) I have also put together part of the lap bar device, and even managed to cut myself using a pneumatic ratchet. One of the most interesting things I have done so far is bending track steel. We had to do this for some of the guide-wheel track needed down at Dutch Wonderland. I also got to meet the guys in an area shop that machine some of our parts, and, having two CNC milling machines and a CNC lathe, I can say that they work in a mechanic’s heaven. (You’ll come to see that I love everything that ‘mechanical engineering’ entails.)

Well, that’s it for my first (and lengthy) post. You can look forward for updates on what I hope will be a weekly basis.

8 Responses to “”

  1. Dan says:

    Eamon you’re my hero. Best of luck!

  2. Brandon Bushman says:

    I’m hoping to be in your position in the near future as I am finishing up my Mechanical Engineering degree at NC State. Right now, you’re living my dream…hopefully I can do the same soon!

  3. Joe says:

    You are very lucky. Hopefully there will be more positions available in the future! This website is very interesting, keep the updates coming.

  4. Brad O. says:

    Eamon, keep it up! I am proud of you!

  5. Crystal says:

    I’m a high school senior preparing to start a degree in Mechanical Engineering in the fall. Your experience sounds absolutely amazing — you’re living out my dream, too.

    The Theme Park Engineering group sounds fantastic; what a great way to get involved in the industry and have fun. That’s something I will definitely have to search for as my education continues!

  6. Brandon Bushman says:

    I know, I wish more schools (like NC State) had a Theme Park Engineering group or something similar, that would be perfect! Unfortunately groups like that don’t usually get enough exposure because they are relatively small groups and the schools don’t seem to care too much about small groups (just big fraternities and sororities).

  7. Eamon Kelly says:

    Hey Guys,

    Thanks for all the comments. For those of you interested in the college group, contact Brad at our website. We are trying to get a national group going for everyone at colleges that don’t have enough interest to warrant a group. For those of you who do have enough people interested, don’t be afraid to start one, it’s what Brad did, and it is a big reason why I am where I am. Ask him to help you out; I’m sure he can give you advice on how to do it.

  8. Cole Eacret says:

    Fantastic article. I’ve bookmarked this blog so I can follow your follow-ups. Thanks for taking the energy to share this.

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