Hey everyone! My name is Nick Furukawa, and I'm a junior mechanical engineering student. Now that I'm getting closer to graduation, I'm starting to take bigger steps to try to get a foot in the door in the amusement industry. One of these steps was attending the ASTM F24 conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.
A really brief background -- ASTM is a regulatory agency, and F24 is the section that applies to amusement rides. So this conference is all about changing, improving or creating regulations for amusement rides in America. There aren't many better places to go if you're looking to learn about or work in the amusement industry.
Really, I think there are three main takeaways from the trip. The first is that you get to see a behind the scenes look at how regulations are made in the industry. For example, I was able to learn about how clearance envelopes for roller coasters were defined and how they coincided with those by European and Asian regulations. Other topics included G-force testing and constraints, accommodating riders with disabilities, and corrosion. It's obviously impossible to get a full technical grasp of the issues at hand just by attending the conference, but the glimpses and insights you can get are really great.
The second is that you can get to network with professionals in the industry. This is important not only because you can get your face out there and increase your chances of getting an internship -- there are many opportunities to hand out a business card or resume -- but also because you can learn about the paths that people took to get into the industry. They aren't always direct, and some people never expected to work in the industry at all. For example, one engineer I talked to used to design blades for wind turbines. So, overall, you can get a great dose of perspective by learning about the experiences of people in the industry.
Finally, you can get to meet peers with similar interests from all over the country! Some of the ASTM leaders noted that more and more students have been attending over the past few years. I was able to meet students from California, New Jersey, and even Canada. These connections can be just as important as those with people already in the industry.
Overall, the ASTM conference was fantastic and I would definitely recommend attending if you are interested in working in the amusement industry. The only downside is that it's obviously expensive to travel across the country to Arizona, but the connections, knowledge, and experiences you get out of attending are truly invaluable.