CMU team wins top recognitions in theme park design competition

127 students from 18 universities took part in the Toronto Metropolitan University Thrill Design Invitational (TMUTD) last weekend, Nov. 10 - 13, including a team of seven from Carnegie Mellon.

TMUTD is a four-day event that focuses on theme park design. Competing teams were given a theme and specifications, and expected to design theme park rides that best fit the criteria. The overall theme of the competition was redesigning the preexisting Seuss Landing at Universal Islands of Adventure.

The competition featured seven challenges, and each team was invited to compete in a subset of the seven based on the strengths demonstrated in the Open Qualifying Round that determined eligibility for the actual competition. The Carnegie Mellon team was invited to compete in two of the challenges: interactive “boat” ride and multilevel indoor attraction with two-way visual contact with dining.

The Carnegie Mellon team was made up of students from the Carnegie Mellon Entertainment Technology Center and the Theme Park Engineering Group. Members included junior Anaya Bhammar, senior Riley Forster, Master's student Lori Kipp, junior Justin Peng, fifth-year Katia Peppas, junior Matthew Saenz, and Master's student Em Tyminski.

Teams received the challenges on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 11 a.m. and were expected to have presentations ready by Saturday, Nov. 12 at 10:30 a.m.

“Our team was given two challenges, and we decided to have two small teams within our team that focused on one of the challenges, but also be free to help with any part needed,” Peng said.

On Thursday, the team focused on brainstorming ideas for the challenges, and then went to see other group presentations and Seuss Landing on Friday to get a better sense of the area.

One of the major struggles for the Carnegie Mellon team was that half their team members were stuck in Pittsburgh while the competition started. “Three of our seven team members were stranded in Pittsburgh due to Hurricane Nicole,” Peng stated. “The first four of us were able to catch an early morning flight, but the rest of us had flight after flight canceled. Eventually, our team members arrived around midnight on Saturday early morning.”

Due to Hurricane Nicole, the final recognition ended up being that four of the 18 competing teams were recognized as outstanding, meaning they received two or more commendations in two or more challenges. Carnegie Mellon was one of those teams, receiving excellence in creative skill and integration.

“Many of the teams we observed had exceptional rides that were very optimistic about the physical space allotted to them in the challenge, as well as technical specifications that were not realistic given their proposals,” Peng said.