Design and Engineering put into practice.
Each year, TPEG members have the option to participate in hands-on projects that explore academic or professional applications of engineering and design in the Themed Entertainment / Attractions industry.
Check out some of our projects below!
In February 2019, TPEG set the challenge of creating an animatronic from scratch before the semester ended. Coming off of the OSU Theme Park project, it was decided to make a Brutus Animatonic that would move his arms and head to "O-HI-O".
An Arduino was programmed to move servos inside the 'build-a-bear' Brutus skin. He was placed on an elevated platform which hid most of the wiring.
Theming was done by creating a background of iconic OSU views: Thompson Library, football field, and mirror lake. A mobile of other iconic OSU/college items were hung around the place where Brutus stands.
OSU Theme Park
Starting Fall of 2017, TPEG started brainstorming for the club's newest undertaking: an OSU Theme park. Members divided themselves into teams which would focus on different rides/attractions for the imaginary theme park based on the campus.
Tower of Thompson
Inspired by Disney's Tower of Terror, this team decided to re-imagine the biggest library on campus as a dark ride drop tower. The back story is that the library used to be open 24/7 until an "incident" occurred so now the riders must sneak in after hours to investigate, finding that the library is haunted by Thompson himself.
Starting off as the "Flight of the Afroduck", this coaster dynamix model transformed into "Afroduck's Revenge" after the tragic passing of the Mirror Lake icon. This ride will make riders feel like they're taking flight with Afroduck.
Mirror Lake Rapids
Inspired by OSU's scenic Mirror Lake, this water ride takes its riders through campus in a 3D printed raft. This project challenges the team's understanding of fluid dynamics to create one wild ride.
Following an extensive research project on "Adventure Attractions" for the October 2015 ASTM-F24 conference in San Diego, California, TPEG members took on the task of creating a model zipline to measure the forces passengers experience via different methods of braking.
The group spent the following semester studying real-world ziplines, building two miniature zipline towers, and designing a removable zipline carriage and attached safety harness to hold an accelerometer.
After establishing measurement standards, members collaborated with "Zip Zone," near Columbus, to record acceleration data in the Fall of 2016. The group then analyzed the recorded data in order to determine typical acceleration along varying directions during a zipline brake run.
Observations from TPEG were then introduced at the Fall 2016 ASTM F24 conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. Upon presentation and discussion with industry experts, it was determined that our group's research on ziplines needed to be suspended until the committee could agree upon universal, consistent measurement standards for zipline forces.
TPEG's animatronic bird, lovingly named "Peggy," is a servo-operated character capable of four degrees of motion: head, mouth, waist, and perch. The character's skeletal structure is designed to provide lightweight yet sufficient support for the realistic range of motion, while a self-containing base below the figure holds all necessary system hardware.
One of the MANY challenges faced during the creation of Peggy was attempting to create a character that mimicked the behavior of an actual animal, being as dynamic as possible, while maintaining the ability to easily transport and operate outside of the laboratory environment. It was therefore crucial that the figure was portable in size and all necessary equipment could be contained inside the base of the figure.
To keep the size manageable enough to be handled and transported by one person, the overall length of the figure was maintained at roughly 19 inches, including a five-inch head and 14-inch body. The figure and base were originally modeled in SolidWorks before being constructed within our OSU lab space, with a 3D-printed beak.
Perhaps the greatest challenge our members faced, however, was the programming of the figure. Peggy operates via an array of Arduino-controlled servo motors, with the capacity to be manipulated by means of a PlayStation controller. Coding and trouble-shooting en route to a net fluid movement was a difficult but rewarding task.
Peggy was completed in late 2015 and serves as an ambassador for TPEG, having traveled to many different sites to "perform," from events on campus to those at Cedar Point. This project can also be transported to schools and used for educational purposes, allowing children and adults alike a chance to get a closer look at how engineering problems are approached, designed, and solutions maintained.
Theme Park Competition
Beginning with the contest's conception in 2015, TPEG has been an active participant in the international Theme Park Design Competition hosted through Cornell University's TPEG. This dynamic contest presents participating teams with a different prompt each year, although always catering to a wide variety of majors and interests.
In 2015, during the competition's inaugural year, four of our members participated as one team. Collaboratively, they developed a comprehensive business model and attraction release plan for the re-development of the abandoned Geauga Lake amusement park located in Aurora, OH. After a month of exhaustive effort, our team earned the distinction of "Best in Design," out of 24 participating teams from the US and Canada.
Additionally, in 2016, with increased interest we were able to create three teams of participants for the contest. In this year, the task presented was to design a new themed area for an existing New York theme park. Each of our teams did a fantastic job conceiving unique theming ideas and creating marketing materials.
Through this competition, our members have been able to explore additional focus areas within the themed entertainment industry they may not have otherwise been familiar with. Each year, members were encouraged to explore disciplines including business, marketing, architecture, landscape design, and of course attraction engineering.
In 2010 and 2011, TPEG teamed up with OSU's chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) to construct a single-person motion simulator. The project was based on the concept of a Stewart Platform, a six-actuator platform common to dynamic analysis within different industrial applications, and would be an immersive rideable experience.
The project planned to incorporate various components including fans, misters, virtual reality glasses, and a moving platform to simulate a roller coaster ride. A potential application was to use NoLimits software and program the platform to move alongside the on-screen animation.
Plans were created for the motion simulator platform using Autodesk Inventor and a frame was constructed within our lab space. Unfortunately, due to budgetary constrictions, the project had to be placed on hold so that other, more financially feasible projects, could be pursued.
Regarding the issue of financial limitations, if you or an organization you are affiliated with would be interested in supporting TPEG at Ohio State, please refer to our "Contact" page for information on how to donate.
CoasterDynamix is a model roller coaster manufacturer based out of Virginia. The company has been extremely influential in the early development of TPEG and their staff even includes a TPEG alum.
TPEG first worked closely with the company in 2007, when we built a small model roller coaster layout and mounted an accelerometer to a train to graph the changes in acceleration along the track. The project was later turned over to the Computer Science Department at OSU, but TPEG was instrumental in the development of the project. The result was the "CoasterDyanimx Physix Kit," a teaching tool for grade school and high school physics classes. The accompanying course guide was also developed with input from TPEG members.
TPEG has also been involved in creating new layouts for the CoasterDynamix Phoenix kit and expansion packs, and even created an instructional video for building the Phoenix model.
Coaster models created by TPEG members have been prominently displayed on campus within Scott Lab, as well as Thompson Library and the Ohio Union.
You can learn more about CoasterDynamix by checking out their website.
In 2008 TPEG members brainstormed a twist on a classic launched freefall attraction, one in which the seats would vertically rotate as the riders traveled up and down. The tower, dubbed "Project Altius," was designed using various forms of software, then mocked-up with balsa wood, and constructed in the lab space.
The project began by fleshing out the idea and working through the details of the design. Calculations were made to determine an appropriate height, and a scale mock-up of the tower was constructed with balsa wood.
Once a model was constructed, TPEG members were able to split into four subcommittees, each focused on a different aspect of the tower: structure, cart, launch, and base.
The structure team designed and created CAD models of the main tower structure. One of the difficulties faced was maintaining maneuverability of the tower when constructing and transporting it. This was overcome by splitting the tower into three sections: a 4' section and two 3' sections. Each section was manufactured at Ohio State with the help of undergraduate metal shop attendants.
The cart team designed a sixteen-wheeled ride vehicle and the rotating seats. The cart needed to be light enough so that it could traverse the tower under power of the pneumatic launch. The launch team was, in turn, responsible for designing, developing, and modifying this pneumatic launch which was built into the tower itself.
The tower's central tube was made of acrylic and acted as a piston housing. A plunger, made of low friction plastic, went up and down inversely with the cart. As air entered the top of the tube, the plunger was pushed down and the cart was pulled up. A compressor on the ground filled a secondary tank inside the tower. A solenoid valve at the top restricted air from entering the top of the tube. At the push of a button, the air was instantly released into the tube, launching the plunger down and the cart up.
The ride vehicle seats were automatically spun once the cart reached a certain height on the tower by using an Arduino micro-controller and bump sensors. The spinning was accomplished via servo motors.
In Spring 2023, five members of TPEG united together to participate in the annual TPEG Alumni Community Theme Park Design Competition. Starting in 2020 by TPEG Alumni currently in the industry, this competition allows students to work on a team and create a themed space/environment. To learn more about the competition and its past, click here.
This team consisted of a mixed group of individuals: Ella Rudkin, Andrew Yates, Audrey Nelson, Jacob English, and David Manguiat. All of them were mechanical engineering majors, except David, who was an operations management major. They also ranged from freshman to senior class, creating a nice blend of past experience. Each team member was eager to present their creativity skills for something they were passionate about - themed experiences.
Given this prompt, the team started to brainstorm. Through endless discussion, they decided on a cryptid-themed entertainment center. They thought it was a very unique idea, so they ran with it.
Starting near the end of January and finishing in early April, the team divided the
project between each other's strengths and interests in design, so each person
focused on one section of the entertainment center. While wrapping up the project,
as a group they modified and improved each others' work so they could have the
best representation possible of the entertainment center.
After working together in Scott Labs until about midnight the day before the project
was due AND the day it was due, they turned it in confidently. They weren't
sure if they would win, but regardless, it was a great way to use their artistic skills and
imagination to come up with something they all loved and were invested in. It was
also a great way to exercise skills not used in the classroom setting.
A couple weeks later they received an email saying they won the competition. They
were all extremely happy and proud of themselves. Interviewing with Coaster101 was a
huge highlight of the winning experience, but most importantly were the everlasting
friendships the team created with each other.