It’s barely past the middle of winter, and my thoughts can’t help turning to warmer weather and to plans I’m making to take a summer road trip with friends. I haven’t gone on a classic road trip before, and I can’t wait. And where would a young engineer and his buddies head on such a trip? Kings Island! No, it’s not an exotic resort or an island in the south – it is actually near Cincinnati and is the largest amusement and water park in the Midwest. Why would we choose an amusement park? For me it’s easy…roller coasters.

I love roller coasters and Kings Island offers quite a few, with names like Diamondback, The Beast (the longest wooden roller coaster in the world) and Firehawk. It’s funny, though: since I became an engineer, attractions like these are more than thrill rides because I can’t help looking at them through an engineer’s eyes. Now I see so much more than thrills – like the complexity of the ride, how everything is connected, the complications of working with such unique shapes and overall the engineering and design behind it.

I’ve always thought some of the coolest projects the structural engineers and design team at KOMA have worked on were the redesign of the Mall of America’s former Camp Snoopy amusement park into Nickelodeon Universe and later additions like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shell Shock and Dutchman’s Deck Anchor Drop.

As I said, my road trip this summer will be my first. I’m hoping for another first this summer, as well – I’ve never actually been to the State Fair, crazy huh!  Crossfit, country music concerts and riding motorcycles also make the list. I guess this is going to be another year of firsts for me. Hang on tight!