Thursday, November 19, 2009

FUNWORLD Follow-Up: Engineering Group Visits Expo 2009

In the October 2009 issue of FUNWORLD, I wrote about some theme park engineering groups popping up on college campuses across the United States, most notably at The Ohio State University and the University of Toledo. Well, some of the guys I profiled in that piece came all the way to Vegas this week to attend IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009.

I sat down with four of them this morning and was glad to hear they're having a great experience at this year's show. They said the article has really done a lot for their groups. 

"People know about us now," said Dan Linden, a cofounder of Ohio State's Theme Park Engineering Group

"We've gone up to meet with companies and they say, 'Oh, you're the guys from the article!'" said Jeff Piggrem, president of the Toledo group.

"We actually got stopped on the way to a meeting and were asked about an engineering problem," added Brad Okeson, the Ohio State group's president. "It was insane."

Okeson said other groups from around the country have contacted them after seeing the piece in FUNWORLD, including the University of Maryland and the University of Central Florida.

He also said the article came at a good time, as Theme Park Engineering Group was just starting to take off on its own. At a freshman outreach fair in September, the group received 150 signatures from interested students—in the pouring rain, no less—a significant jump over last year. "We had lines of people," he said.

While at Expo, Linden said the goal is to make more contacts in the industry that will hopefully pay off when they all graduate (Linden finishes in three months). They also spoke with IAAPA reps to see how the student groups nationwide could become more involved in the association and the industry at large. 

This year is Linden and Okeson's second trip to IAAPA Attractions Expo, and they approached it much differently the second time around.

"We've learned more about how to best utilize the convention, making it out to all the [networking events]," Okeson said. "We have more of a mission and goal as a group."

"We gave out a lot more cards this year—and got a lot more cards, too," Linden said.

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