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Design Engineer, Nicole Parker shares the conceptual design process + engineering methods behind one-of-a-kind TAIT Projects

May 15th, 2019 | TAIT Take Over

Nicole Parker is a Design Engineer for Permanent Installations at TAIT HQ. In her role, Nicole designs and engineers one-of-a-kind animatronics and show action equipment for theme parks and theatre venues. On this episode of #TAITTakeOver, Nicole shares a ‘day in her life’ and brings you to team meetings and brainstorm sessions where the conceptual design process and engineering methods come together to create extraordinary experiences.

Hi. I am Nicole Parker.

I am a Design Engineer for Permanent Installations at TAIT.

This is my TAIT Take Over.

When I get to work in the morning, I like to have my tea and breakfast while I check my emails and layout my tasks for the day.

Most of the projects that I work on are one-of-a-kind animatronics or show action equipment for theme parks.

Currently, I am working on a few different projects that are each at different stages of the cycle.

Today, I am going to walk through a typical project cycle in a permanent installations project.

At the beginning of a project, a client will provide us with a scope of work which details the creative intent, the footprint and the motion profile for each element.

Each project that we receive has never been built before meaning we are designing these machines from the ground up.

Design Engineer at TAIT
FUN FACT: Nicole has a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of California, Berkeley!

To start our design process, we will often conduct feasibility studies to validate the client’s scope of work.

This preliminary brainstorming is very conceptual and we ask ourselves what is every possible way that we can solve this problem.

As a team, we will put these whiteboard ideas into decision matrices and preliminary hand calculations and converge on the best design concept.

I will then put the concept into 3D modeling software and select power transmission components and materials.

Concurrently, I am validating my design using engineering calculations which check the strength and fatigue life of our machine components.

In PI our machines are typically installed for upwards of a decade and see tens of millions of cycles making high cycle count and fatigue a big factor in our engineering. These machines can also be installed in a variety of environments which may add constraints like seismic wind factors or corrosion if the machine is outdoors.

Our office style is very casual and open which I think lends itself well to the innovation and collaboration aspects of our job.

The best resource we have is the group knowledge available to us.

Many mistakes can be avoided by talking to the right people earlier in the process. So we will host meetings with project management, fabricators and integrators before we actually release these designs to be made.

A huge benefit to having our designs built in the same building is that fabricators, integrators and designers all have access to each other. For instance, if I am not sure what clearance to give some interfacing parts of my design, I can run downstairs and ask someone who has years of experiences building machines.

A few times a week, my coworkers and I will go climbing together. Apart from being good exercise, climbing is a great stress outlet for me and its also a cool way to bond with my coworkers.

Want to learn more about design and engineering careers at TAIT? Click here!

Design Engineer at TAIT
Design Engineer at TAIT