Research and Impact

Three students are re-engineering how to get Cedar Point ready for summer fun

Getting ready for the Student Expo

Before the Cedar Point amusement park opens in May, nearly 15 acres of concrete must be pressure washed.

Three Ohio University students majoring in industrial and systems engineering have made finding the most efficient way to do this their senior project—and their entry for the Student Expo on April 7.

Danielle Klein, Maddie McNamara and Meghan Harris are hard at work on the Cedar Point project, combining their engineering knowledge with what they learned in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology and its certificate in Lean Six Sigma, which is all about identifying risks and solving problems.

"Cedar Point’s Park Services team is tasked with organizing and implementing a plan to pressure wash nearly 15 acres of concrete in the spring months leading up to the opening of the park in May," Klein said. "Pre-season pressure washing involves many different resources, personnel, and unavoidable changes. A well-designed, flexible, and cost-effective system is necessary for the planning and monitoring of a complex and large-scale process like this in an efficient manner."

The idea for the project emanated from Harris, who works at Cedar Point and connected her senior design group with her Park Services colleagues.

"Having Meghan on the team enables us as outside contributors to get the inside scoop on Cedar Point information," said Klein, who is also earning certificates in project management and global leadership. "Our instructor and adviser, Dr. Dušan Šormaz, worked to ensure that we could use this opportunity as a capstone experience by applying our coursework from the last four years in the ISE program to a real process at Cedar Point."

The group says the hardest part of their project so far has been developing high-impact, low-cost recommendations.

"The constraints of this project require creative solutions to implement changes that will make the highest improvements on efficiency without requiring more resources than we have available," Klein said.

"Each week, Dr. Šormaz challenges our initial thoughts on the project and encourages us to think outside the box on approaches. He also ensures that we'll be able to finish this semester with an exceptional set of deliverables for our client, preparing us to be great engineers and employees in the future. His support and insight into successfully facilitating a project like this has been integral to our project's success to this point," Klein said.

Field observations and experience outside the classroom also were key for Klein, McNamara and Harris.

"The most exciting part of our project for me has been visiting Cedar Point during the park's off-season. We recently traveled up to the park to observe the pressure-washing process and conduct time studies. Seeing the park empty with the coaster seats off of the machines and the Cedar Point team working hard to prepare the park for guests was a really cool and unique experience," Klein noted.

"Working as a group has benefitted us immensely. From week one, we've been able to complement each other's knowledge, expertise and work styles. Each of us has championed a possible final alternative for our client, worked on compiling additional recommendations, and been an integral part of creating a well-thought-out and successful project," Klein said.

Their takeaways, and their next steps

"The key to this project has been utilizing the simple tools we’ve learned during our time at OHIO. I’ve learned that even in an endeavor as overwhelming as pressure washing the entirety of Cedar Point, basic industrial engineering tricks like time studies help break down the process,” said McNamara, who will be working at International Paper in a leadership development role after graduation.

Klein's takeaway, "There are so many hidden processes at work in any organization that industrial and systems engineering can improve. Pressure washing is one that you may not think of walking around Cedar Point, but being able to help make it more efficient and effective shows that ISE tools can be applied anywhere." After graduation, Klein is moving to Columbus to work at Nationwide Children's Hospital as a process improvement specialist.

"I would say my ah-ha moment was learning how many different industrial engineering tools work together to create a larger system. When working for Cedar Point last summer, I was able to gain knowledge about how the team functions. Applying that knowledge to our ideas for improvement has been an eye opener on how different solutions can function with Cedar Point," added Harris, who will be working for Schaeffler Group in Wooster, Ohio, as a cost engineer after graduation.

April 6, 2022
Staff reports