There’s Still a Lot to Sift Through

Well, here we are at my third post. It has been a busy week, and unfortunately my updates have not started as frequently as I would like. I’ll be considering setting aside a regular time each week to say something, but so far I’m not keen on that because I don’t want any of my writings to be out of necessity (that would be at a loss to you, my readers, and myself).

Moving on: things have been shaping up in the education world. I was able to add into a “Fundamentals of Aerospace Engineering” class, which is great because now I can officially say that what I do is “rocket science.” My hopes for the future do not necessarily include going into this field for a long time, but I enjoy taking every opportunity to say something like that. It just makes each day more interesting.

In the shorter term, only four weeks of summer school are left, and there is a project we have been working on for one of my classes that I would like to share. My group will be performing engineering analysis for a roller coaster hill, involving static stress analysis (which is basic structural stress) and possibly frequency analysis (vital for most bridges and large trussed structures). Andrea and myself have been working on a CAD model in SolidWorks that will accurately resemble a simplified version of a wooden roller coaster hill, which we will then use to determine the minimum required number of supports, and therefore lowest build cost. Potentially, the methods we will use may be applied to each element of a roller coaster individually, saving a lot of time and money from testing with physical models via replacement with mathematical models. While this is most likely the current method of running structural analysis on roller coasters in the industry today, the first hand experience of planning our testing procedure is very exciting.

However, the project has been frustrating thus far. Two of our group members have been very limited in their helpfulness, and not one of us is strong enough in our CAD modeling skills to build the model we need. This has severely constrained our overall project time, and thus the available time for testing, so I spoke with the professor that teaches CSUN’s CAD course in hopes of getting the required help from him. As for the other students, I am trying to look at this project as an opportunity to build my leadership skills, but working with people I barely know in a summer school class has been demoralizing at times. I will of course update with the finalized project info (including some hopefully useful pictures and diagrams) when the time comes.

In my life outside, work has been going well, and I have been fortunate enough to become friends with George McGinnis, a retired Imagineer of over 30 years (some of his writings and work may be found here: He has been a wonderful person to speak to, with a great amount of encouragement and genuine interest. George is furthering my group of friends by introducing me to Bill Watkins, another previous Imagineer, next weekend. While George has done mostly facade design and ride storyboard modeling, Bill was a mechanical engineer who is knowledgeable of the kinetics of the roller coaster, which is my personal interest (Bill Watkins did work on the original Space Mountain, which was the first roller coaster to use CAD modeling in the design process, similar to that of my group project mentioned above). Needless to say, I am very excited about the future.

There’s still a lot to sift through in my day to day life before I earn my degree and proceed further, but I am trying to take the most out of every experience. Luckily, I will not be alone no matter where I end up.


~ by MichaelStaudenmeir on July 18, 2010.

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