In Depth - July 2017

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Skyline Attractions Helps Foster the Future of the Industry

Put yourself into the shoes of a young person excited about becoming part of the attractions industry as a designer, artist, engineer, or other trade positions. How do you get started? This was the main question confronting the attendees of SKYnext 2017. Held earlier this year in Orlando, the conference was developed by the founding partners of Skyline Attractions, with the assistance of a host of industry operators, manufacturers, and suppliers. Its goal was to provide encouragement, support, and knowledge—and perhaps even a few job leads—to the young talent the event is designed for.

1707_In_Depth_skyline1SKYnext 2017 drew 70 participants, up 20 from the previous year. “We’re proud to say SKYnext has seen its share of young people who promptly went on to start careers in the design and manufacturing side of the business,” says Jeff Pike, president of Skyline Attractions. “As a matter of fact, no fewer than 12 of last year’s attendees now have full‑time jobs as engineers or designers for a major park chain or manufacturer.” 

Scott Parrish is a new engineer at Skyline who came to the first two SKYnext functions as an attendee, and this year, he practically ran the event as an organizer. “SKYnext provides an opportunity to learn about how industry professionals carved their path to where they are today, and what it’s like to work within the amusement industry,” he says. “The event is really geared toward learning and networking.”

As Parrish alludes, perhaps the most valuable contribution of SKYnext comes from the array of experienced, professional presenters who donate their time and expertise. This year they included Jack Morey from Morey’s Piers, who with the help of his marketing director, Tim Samson, told the story of his family’s business; and Bob Sharpe from Universal Orlando, who talked about the company’s new Volcano Bay water theme park. 

SKYnext Demographics

SKYnext organizers note their attendees are talented young professionals in the making who are seriously targeting careers in the attractions industry. The 70 people registered for the event came from four countries and included 55 college students or recent graduates; 13 professionals currently employed in technical or engineering positions, including five currently working in the theme park industry; and two high school students.

Other presenters included Jake Kilcup of Rocky Mountain Construction, Adam Sandy and Mark Rosenzweig from Ride Entertainment, and Korey Kiepert of The Gravity Group. Brandon Thom spoke of his experiences as an IAAPA ambassador, and Justin Ruka did the same regarding his time in the TEA NextGen program. Finally, Falcon’s Creative gave an augmented reality demonstration.

About these personal presentations, Parrish says, “Our hope is that [they] allow SKYnext attendees to walk away with a better understanding of what kinds of careers are available in the amusement industry and what steps they can take to help them achieve one of those careers.”

(PHOTOS: Skyline Attractions)