So an engineer walks into a theme park…

So an engineer walks into a theme park and while the kids are waiting in line for the kids’ coaster he carefully analyzes the mechanical construction details and postulates how the controls work.  Mechanically, it’s round tubular steel tracks, supported by round steel tubular columns.  The columns are embedded in cement footers with a welded plate on top.  An I-beam is welded to the plate and the track is bolted to the beam and track sections are bolted to each other.  The track is obviously a wear item which must be replaced (conclusion based on it being bolted and not welded).  The controls are not complicated – some motors for moving the coaster up the first hill, synchronized.  Some prox switches to determine where the coaster is.  Safety is probably achieved with hardwiring although it would be a good application for PROFIsafe over PROFIBUS and PROFINET.

Ok, time to come clean… the “engineer” was me, a week ago today, in Legoland, looking at the Coastersaurus.  [My apologies to those of you waiting for a punch line since this started out sounding like “So a guy walks into a bar and says to the bartender…”]

Then this article was in the local paper: “Lego master modeler at piece with his career.”  And of course I loved the pun in the title, but even more, the correlation between Legos and an engineering career:

[Dan Steininger] meets older couples who tell him their children were avid Lego enthusiasts, and Steininger tells them he can guess the occupation of the grown children: engineer.

“Eight or nine times out of 10, I’m right,” he said. “There’s some connection between what inspires a spark in an engineer’s mind, how stuff fits together in space and how a child plays with Lego. It scratches some itch. I see it all the time.”

And then Mike A over lunch talked about a recent meeting he presented at where all the major theme park folks had gathered and PROFIsafe was a hot topic.

And finally there was this article in Design News about PROFINET in a theme park: “Disney Rides on Wireless Ethernet.”