Work? Play? Both! Bill Lamm ’24 Coasts Toward His Dream Career in Theme Park Engineering

Bill Lamm at Universal Orlando
Bill Lamm ’24 at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure theme park. In the background is the park’s newest addition, Jurassic World VelociCoaster, designed in part by Michelle Smith ’14.

“The theme park industry is full of industrial engineers. I want to be one of them.”

Park Scholar Bill Lamm ’24 has a dream job picked out, and is using Park Enrichment Grant (PEG) funding to get there.

Every November, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) hosts a trade show and conference in Orlando, Fla., bringing together industry professionals from around the globe. Last fall, Lamm wrote a PEG to support his participation. He spent a week in the “Theme Park Capital of the World” walking the trade show floor, attending education sessions, meeting contacts, making connections, and, of course, seeking some thrills. 

Bill Lamm at Universal Orlando

“This trip was really a comprehensive learning experience,” Lamm reflected. During extensive networking with engineers and executives in the industry throughout his freshman year, one piece of advice kept coming up: “Go to IAAPA if you can.” Thanks to Park Scholars’ access to enrichment funds for professional conferences, Lamm began planning the trip.

Full of world-class learning opportunities, IAAPA taught Lamm about topics ranging from the efficiency of QR-code-based maintenance to facility design considerations that optimize the experience for guests of all abilities. He also had the opportunity to roam the trade show floor, a massive 2 million-square-foot space dedicated to making connections, doing business, and showcasing the cutting edge of entertainment technology. 

Bill Lamm
Bill Lamm ’24 in front of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Trade Show Floor after a busy day of attending education sessions and visiting vendors to learn more about potential future career paths as an industrial engineer.

“Another exciting component of the trip for me was networking in person,” he shared. “2020 made Zoom the default, which was really great for me as a freshman because I got to meet so many great folks in the industry one-on-one. But, I was really thrilled to have the opportunity to network in person this time around.”

Lamm met with a plethora of engineering and industry mentors on his trip, including NC State and Park Scholarships alumni. Michelle Smith ’14 is a Park Scholarships alumna and an engineering technical director at Universal Orlando. Smith and Lamm caught up over coffee, discussing engineering in the industry and Smith’s career at Universal. Later that day, Lamm headed to the theme park, taking the opportunity to enjoy attractions Smith played a key role in designing.

“That was one of the neatest things I think I’ve ever done—there is something surreal about meeting the person who designed a rollercoaster and then riding it later that day, knowing the design and detail that went into the experience,” Lamm remarked. 

In addition to speaking with Smith, Lamm leveraged his connections with industrial engineers at the park to learn as an intern would, completing their first-day-on-the-job park walkthrough and taking a dive behind-the-scenes into the analysis and creative planning that makes the operation work. 

Bill Lamm

Bill Lamm ’24, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, is a junior studying at NC State College of Engineering’s Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE). He is pursuing an accelerated bachelor’s and master’s program and plans to work in operations research within the theme park or aviation industries after graduation.