Roller coasters are terrifyingly exciting to ride – and the people who design them must be both awed and a bit scared to put their best work out there. Theme park engineers have to consider not only how fast the coaster will go, but also whether the force of the twists and turns will be able to safely fling passengers around like rag dolls, all while keeping them safe from ripped limbs and potential heart attacks.
In order to start a career as a roller coaster engineer, an individual must have a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering or a related field such as mechanical, electrical, or structural. Some universities offer specialized courses for future engineering professionals who want to design and build theme parks or similar attractions, but an entry-level position in the maintenance department at a park can also provide an education in this area.
Once an engineer has a formal education, they must obtain licensure as a professional engineer (P.E.). This can be done by completing four years of relevant job experience and passing a test. Roller coaster designers may choose to complete a Master’s program, which can strengthen their credentials and make them more competitive in the industry.
Theme park engineers typically have to pass a background check, a drug screen, and a psychological test. They also need a solid understanding of the fundamental principles behind their work, such as mathematics, physics, and computer design programs. Theme park engineers must be able to create models that accurately model the final coaster’s speed, weight, and forces before it’s ever built.