While many people enjoy riding roller coasters, some University of Arizona engineering students want to get a little more involved. Students from the UA Theme Park Entertainment Group earned some of the highest praise of any group at the Toronto Metropolitan University Thrill Design Invitational competition in Orlando, Florida. The competition invited student groups from 18 universities to present real-world creative, artistic and technical solutions to challenges related to the theme park industry: roller coasters, live shows, mechanical rides and more.
Judges awarded the UA TPEG team the highest marks overall, with distinction for technical skill, feasibility, innovation and communication. The UA engineering students were awarded more commendations per challenge than any other student team.
The team consisted of a variety of engineering students, each with a special role. Architectural engineering major Alyssa La Fountain held a unique position on the team, focusing on the challenge of integrating large, complex systems without taking away from the storytelling of the ride.
"In theme parks, you are challenged with making large mechanical and electrical systems look aesthetically pleasing," La Fountain said. "It’s my job as the architectural engineer to come in and make sure I can have these two elements coexist without compromising the work of the architects or engineers on the team."