Discovering the Next Generation of Designers: Cornell Theme Park Design Competition

With entries now from over 60 universities and nine countries, the Cornell Theme Park Design Competition has grown rapidly since its creation in 2014. Sponsoring the competition again this year, WhiteWater’s lending its team of experts to help with the judging and development sessions. Mark Hewett, WhiteWater’s Development Engineering Lead for Water Rides, is looking forward to appearing on the judging panel with industry experts from CAVU, JRA, FORREC, RavenSun, and Zamperla.

A member of the themed entertainment industry for over seven years now, Mark has some sentimental ties to the competition as he began his own career in design. “I entered the industry working on the design and development of water play structures,” Hewett said. “I am so excited to act as a judge and look at how the students have interpreted the brief. Storytelling is a personal thing, I am looking forward to seeing the creativity, feasibility, and attention to detail communicated through their renders.” 

Participants in the contest will have the chance to attend virtual Developmental Sessions with the sponsors to receive advice about the competition’s challenges. This opportunity serves to provide applicants with more information about the sponsors’ areas of the industry and give them the ability to network with companies as they look to graduate and join the industry.

Teams in the design competition are composed of two to four participants enrolled full-time in an undergraduate or graduate program. Groups will take the role of a themed entertainment consulting group creating a proposal for a park based on a brief. To complete the challenge, students are to create a concept design, schematic design, and concept plan highlighting the innovative features of their design in order to sell their design to the judges.

Kelly Sall, Product Manager for WhiteWater’s Water Ride portfolio and TEA Western North America Board Member, commented, “it is energizing to see the number of teams entering the contest increase. These students are so talented, it gives me excitement about the future of the themed entertainment industry to know that they are going to be joining the talent pool soon and propelling us forward, helping to push the boundaries of technology and design.”

This is the seventh iteration of the annual competition by the Cornell Theme Park Entertainment Group which celebrates the talent of upcoming young professionals in the industry. This year, there is $7,000 in cash prizes up for grabs for the winning teams.

WhiteWater wishes the best of luck to all of the participants; Mark is looking forward to reviewing the entries and announcing the winners soon!

Cassidy Newman