Kate Kujawa’s Skynext 2018 Experience and Why Aspiring Coaster Designers Should Attend

Kate Kujawa is an aspiring roller coaster engineer. You may remember her school project about roller coaster wheel material we covered last year. She’s now pursuing her dream by studying mechanical engineering at the University of Rochester. She took another step toward her goal of designing roller coasters by attending SkyNext, an event put on by Skyline Attractions  featuring exclusive presentations and activities aimed at helping develop the future of the amusement industry. She left for Orlando after classes on Thursday, spent Friday and Saturday at the conference, and then, as a bonus, was able to tackle all four Disney parks in one day on Sunday.

Kate wrote us a quick trip report about her experience and why you should attend SKYnext if you’re thinking about pursuing a career in the amusement industry.


Kate: On March 2nd and 3rd I was lucky enough to be one of the 60 people to attend SKYnext 2018, hosted by Skyline Attractions in Orlando, Florida. SKYnext is an event for young professionals looking to get into the amusement industry.  For the conference, Skyline brought in a bunch of guest speakers to talk to us about what they do, their new projects, and give us some advice on how to get into the industry. We also got a few tours and a chance to check out the final product of a construction site they visited last year.

The event started at 9 am with coffee at Skyline’s Orlando facility. This was a great opportunity to network with some of the other attendees before the presentations began. Scott Parrish opened up the conference, welcoming everyone and introducing all of the Skyline employees. Throughout the day we heard from Anya Tyler, Jessie Karp and Jeff Pike from Skyline Attractions, Scott Fais from IAAPA, Alex Reszitnyk from Funworld Magazine, and Franceen Gonzales from WhiteWater West. We even got the chance to skype with Jeff Siebert, the president of Six Flags Fiesta Texas who was on the construction site of the Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster. In addition to the presentations, Jeff Pike and shop manager John Paez gave us a tour of the Skyline facility.

At the end of the day we all met up at Fun Spot America where we received wristbands that let us ride every attraction in the park. This was a really fun event because I got to ride roller coasters with people who love roller coasters. It was great to bond with the other attendees and see Skyline’s own Crazy Couch ride in action.

And that was only day one! The next day we heard from Alexis Papadelias from Universal Orlando Resort, Mellissa Ruminot from The Nassal Company and TEA, and Frank Heimes from Wiegand.Maelzer GmbH. Jonathan Smith from SeaWorld Entertainment then took us on a construction tour of their new flume ride Infinity Falls at SeaWorld Orlando. We got to walk around the construction site and see the ride’s foundation and layout in our hard hats and safety vests provided by Skyline Attractions. The evening ended at Dave & Buster’s where Skyline provided food and game cards for all the attendees.

I thoroughly enjoyed this conference and would highly suggest it to any young professionals who are looking to learn more about working in the amusement industry. The event was great since I got to meet the people at Skyline Attractions as well as other people around my age who are interested in designing roller coasters.  It really is like one big happy family. I also learned so much from the speakers who came in from Universal, WhiteWater West, Nassal and IAAPA. I loved listening to everyone tell their life story about how they got into the industry and what cool new things they got to work on in their day to day lives!

Sounds like quite the awesome experience and one I would recommend to anyone. Thanks again to Kate for sharing with us and good luck in the next step of your journey!

Future SkyNext events are going to be scheduled around the first weekend of March each year, so be on the look out for it as space is limited.

Did you attend SKYNext? Are you interested in attending in 2019? Let us know your goals in the comments below.


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7 Responses

  1. Cooper St. John says:

    I attended SkyNEXT this year as a senior in High School and it was an absolute blast, great recap!

  2. Alex Metz says:

    This was my second year attending SKYnext, and it seriously only gets better year after year. It’s a FANTASTIC event for young professionals looking to network with both industry leaders and fellow young professionals (both those already in the industry and those exploring their first opportunities.) I can’t recommend it enough.

    I actually met both Kate and Cooper at the event–it was great meeting both of you! Best of luck to both of you as you both explore where the industry will take you next.

  3. Nick says:

    Thanks for sharing Cooper and Alex! That’s actually awesome to hear that you all met each other. I’m glad you all had a great time at the event. Can’t wait to hear about next year!

    Btw, we’re always looking for new and exciting content so if anyone ever has any stories or experiences they’d like to share, feel free to let me know.

  4. Jeremy says:

    Thanks for the post. I had no idea that this existed. Is it really only $50 or is that just registration?

  5. Mike Troise says:

    Great meeting you all at the event! Definitely an excellent write-up. SkyNext is a great event, and I had such a great time. However it is only one of MANY events that interested young professionals should attend. @Jeremy, $50 covers your registration and any events that are directly part of the event (ex D&B, FunSpot). You will have to pay your own way down, get hotels, etc.

  6. Jeremy says:

    Thanks Mike. Also same as Mike, what other events would you recommend?

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