Florence Y’all

By , January 17, 2013
Nathan Rubin

Howdy Y’all!

Okay, so not exactly. For as many people hear about Texas on the news, I still get the impression that a lot of people who haven’t visited think that we’re all cowboys and hicks in the South. As a civil engineering student at The University of Texas as well as a proud member of the Longhorn Band, I can tell you that this stereotype is completely false. In fact, the word y’all is much more prevalent in Florence, KY, where I’m working for this semester. I was greeted to “Florence Y’all” plastered on the local water tower on my drive into town, reinforcing the fact that I’m still in the South (that and the SEC….but we won’t go there).

I’m truly blessed to have the opportunity this upcoming semester to work on detailing the steel for the new Fun Spot White Lightning coaster. Although this is only my fourth day at the office, I have been thrown into tons of AutoCAD work and fully immersed in the friendly, encouraging culture that defines Great Coasters International. Jeff, Joe, Evan and Adam are quite possibly the best co-workers anyone could hope for.

As many of you reading this are probably wondering, I ended up in this position as a result of continually pursuing a passion and believing that there was an opportunity to succeed despite unfavorable odds. However; to those of you who work hard and persevere through whatever obstacles you may encounter, I promise you that you will come upon some kind of success. Most importantly, find a way to make yourself stand out. Show that you are passionate about sustaining and furthering this industry. And most of all, have patience.

My interest in roller coasters stems back to my first roller coaster ride as a child. I do not remember the roller coaster name; however, I remember the layout and how much I enjoyed that ride. It was a kiddie coaster at Riverside Park in Agawam, MA, now known as Six Flags New England. When I was in sixth grade, everyone had to present the careers that they were passionate about. Some kids wanted to be astronauts, others doctors and some even professional athletes. I, however, wanted to be a roller coaster designer. And as many people’s career interests began to grow away from those of their childhood dream, mine continued to flourish throughout high school. During my senior year in high school, for a class called ISM (an independent study and mentorship program), me and my friend, Ian Mair, designed and built a backyard roller coaster, known as The Predator. While not the boldest or baddest roller coaster in the world, the experiences we gained from working with structural, mechanical and electrical engineers were the most invaluable experiences I’ve ever had. Take any engineering experience that you can find, as it is crucial to learning to work with a problem solving mindset.

My first summer internship was two years ago as a worker for Terracon. I mainly inspected rebar and concrete on various jobsites. Nothing screams “roller coaster design” like standing out in the 100+ degree weather with jeans and steel toed boots on, telling the contractor that his or her concrete was too hot to pour or had too high of a water content and being yelled at for it. While not necessarily obvious to many how this contributed to my current internship, working firsthand on a jobsite, reading blueprints and communicating with contractors has been extremely valuable in my pursuit of a career.

Skipping over last summer working at the Texas Department of Transportation designing bridges, I ended up at IAAPA this November upon being highly encouraged by Evan to do whatever I could to attend this convention. Stepping onto the red carpet of this monstrous convention is utterly overwhelming for the first time. Thousands of lights disorient your senses, and the sounds of carnival rides overwhelm the 1,100,000 square feet of exhibition space. Essentially, it’s heaven for the child that still remains in each one of us. This was the crucial experience in my search for an internship in the amusement industry. Having one on one experience with every major professional in this industry is the most insight you can gain into this industry. As a result of attending IAAPA, I was considered out of hundreds of applicants for this position. How I ended up here was a matter of luck, hard work, and perseverance.

I look forward to keeping y’all updated on the experiences I have at Great Coasters International. I cannot express how great the work culture at GCII is, and how welcoming and knowledgeable the employees here are. I could not see myself having a better opportunity to experience the amusement industry than working right here in Florence, Y’all!

The local water tower here. At one point, it read “Florence Mall,” but due to governmental violations with using public funds for advertising, was cleverly changed into “Florence Y’all.” It was the first thing I saw upon arrival.


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