From Concept to Reality : Design Department

At RCI, we value what each team member brings to the table. We also love showcasing different departments so that the public can appreciate our employees just as much as we do!  

If you are not already familiar with our designers, you’re in luck because we recently took some time to sit down and ask (from left to right) Jeff Owens, Randy White, Hunter Weston, Amelia Chapman a few questions about their daily tasks and favorite things about designing RCI adventure products. Our newest designer, Bradan King, was not present at the time the interview took place, however he is pictured above with the rest of the designing departments. 

Describe a typical work day for you as a designer. Do you work as a group or individually?  

Jeff – A typical day for me consists of reviewing work, setting deadlines, responding to emails from other departments and clients and monitoring workflow for our department. I do still design courses and work with other departments such as Sales to be sure we are designing within the right parameters that will meet a client’s needs.

Hunter – A typical day of work is starting, working on, and finalizing designs depending on where I am in the design process, I go from working in our 3D modeling software designing courses, making final packets for clients, and I also work closely with the climbing walls we make. While we do sit in the same room, we mostly work individually but we do collaborate from time to time.

Amelia – I mainly work within the standard Sky Trail®, Clip ‘n Climb® and Amaze’n Mazes™  projects for our Sales Department! Loosely speaking, of course — since nowadays most products need to be edited or customized slightly, in order to work within a client’s building envelope. In most cases, I describe our job as professional problem/puzzle solvers! 

What information do you need from a client to begin a new project?

Jeff – For a brand new client we prefer to receive enough information on their site to be able to confidently visualize what space we have to work with. This includes CAD plans and sections, 3D models, photos, PDFs, hand drawn sketches, etc. Same would apply when incorporating additions such as a QuickFlight free-fall exit.

How long does it typically take to finish a new project design?

Hunter – Depending on the size and customization of the design it can take up to half a day to a week or so!

Amelia – Agreed! For example, we could easily design a standard Sky Trail® that’s located outdoors, with little or no restrictions, in less than a day. While it could also take over a week to create a very large custom Sky Trail® in a space with many restrictions!

What did you originally go to school for and how did you apply what you learned in school to this job?   

Jeff – I have a background in architecture which, here at RCI where we deal with building drawings and architects on a daily basis, really helps when discussing indoor courses as I can read the construction documents and design accordingly. Having that background is an asset because architecture is a creative field but deals with actual construction.

Hunter – I went to a private design college for interior design, which is similar to architecture so coming into RCI it was easy to transition from reading floor plans in school to reading them now in real life. As well as learning from Randy and Jeff who went to school for architecture.  

Amelia – Like Hunter, I also received my bachelor’s degree in Interior Design but from WMU in 2015. It opened me to the world of design thinking and the design process — which I have used everyday since! It gave me a greater understanding of the purpose behind problem solving in design, and how it’s meant to create something that’s equally functional and aesthetic.

What do you enjoy most about working for RCI?  

Randy – I love to be creative! RCI not only offers me a place to design custom, unique projects, but it also affords me the creative freedom to step outside the box and push boundaries with my designs. We are always trying to stay ahead of the curve by producing fun and innovative products.

Hunter – My favorite part about working for RCI is how different each day and project is, so it’s always something new! It’s awesome to have a job you’re excited about and when strangers or friends ask what I do; seeing their interest and excitement is so fulfilling all in one.

Amelia- I love that it’s my childhood dream come to life! I was always the kid building forts, climbing trees, and playing with both Legos® and k’nex® — now I get to design products that exemplify all those things combined for clients around the world!

What’s one thing you wish more people knew about when it comes to completing a design project?

Jeff – That good design takes time! We strive to do the best for each project we work on and that might mean it will take more than just one design attempt to find the best solution.

Randy – I agree with Jeff. Our approach to each project is to design the most exciting attraction possible within the site/budget parameters given. Taking our time and checking every possible solution helps us to ensure we succeed in that endeavor.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Jeff – I enjoy working with the other designers and our company as a whole. Our work is very collaborative by nature and I enjoy that we can talk through things as a group to develop more interesting designs.

Randy – Visiting a location I worked on and seeing all of the happy and excited people. I recently visited a Sky Trail® where a child was hesitant to go on the Sky Rail™. After some persuasion from the staff and her parents, she managed to step off the platform and reach the other side. The whole building applauded and her face lit up. Knowing that I have a hand in making people happy makes it very easy to come into work everyday.

Amelia – I agree with Randy! It’s really rewarding to see your design not only come to life, but to see people enjoying it as well. It’s great to know that your design was successful and that the client is happy with our product!