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Electrical Engineering in the Theater World

Discussion in 'Education and Career Development' started by chrispo86, Feb 19, 2009.

  1. chrispo86

    chrispo86 Active Member

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    Not really sure where would be the best spot to post something like this, but I figure here would work.

    I'm an Electrical Engineer (have my BS in Electrical/Computer Engineering; currently working on a Masters Certificate in Computer Engineering which I'll have by December, and that will flow into a MS in Electrical Engineering which I'll have by May 2011, if all goes to plan). Right now I just do theater on the side, helping out with my old high school as a consultant. I've always been really into theater and would have gone into it as a career, but for various reasons the engineering thing won out. (I'm regretting that decision more and more each day)

    Currently I'm working for a lage company (not going to say who) and I really can't stand it here. I'm not doing anything that I enjoy, and I'm not at all utilizing my engineering skills.

    This all brings me to my question. I'm always happiest when I'm doing something theater related, and I think it would be a really great thing for me if I could do engineering work for a company in the theater business; whether it be designing circuitry for lighting/sound consoles, designing moving lights, something else all-together (I'm really a lighting guy at heart, but I'm open for new things). I know different equipment manufacturers have NY offices (I'm in the New York/Long Island area), but does anybody know if any of them do development work here? (such as equipment design, circuit design, etc)

    I doubt I'll leave my current position any time soon unless a really good opportunity pops up, as they're giving me a very good paycheck and covering 100% of grad school (the only real perk of working here), but I've been trying to look into my other options recently, because I'm really getting wound up tight working here and don't think I can take much more (it's not just me, people are dropping like flies from this place).

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Certainly there are a lot of theatrically related jobs to electrical engineering. The first thing to do is to research equipment manufacturers. You can find lists of them by looking through EPD- The Event Production Directory or look at who's exhibiting at LDI. Also, you can look at the AV community at Infocomm.

    You should get to know ESTA and USITT very well since they set the standards for our industry.

    If you are willing to expand out of lighting, you might consider Fisher Technical Services, Inc. here in Las Vegas.
     
  3. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I know most of the large scenery houses would love to have a EE on staff. After you get your masters, you might fall in the overqualified field however.

    But Strand, ETC, HES, Barco, and all the rest need EE's with theatre backgrounds. If the developer actually knows what the product should it just makes things easier.
     
  4. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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  5. chrispo86

    chrispo86 Active Member

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    I was unaware of "Entertainment Engineering", but it looked realllly interesting so I signed up. Thanks for that resource!

    I am definately willing to expand out of lighting. Lighting is just what I'm most familiar with, but the technologies behind lighting, sound, automation, etc, it's all very interesting stuff in my opinion. Actually I think automation would be an extremely cool thing to get into, I just have no experience with it at all.

    The thing I'm not so willing to do (well, I'd prefer not to do; if I get desperate enough though, who knows) is to leave the NY area. I guess that was sort of my main question. I know there are manufacturers (let's take ETC as an example) that have NY offices. But if they don't do any engineering work there (i.e. it's just a sales office or something) it's not really going to do me any good. Does anybody know if any of the manufacturers do engineering work in NY?
     
  6. Traitor800

    Traitor800 Active Member

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    I can only speak for the automation side of things, but Hudson Scenic is located in Yonkers and they do a lot of automation for Broadway shows and the like. PRG also has there scenic devision called Scenic Tech in Southern NY but it would be a bit more of a commute for you because they're located in New Windsor. Both of those places hire engineers for they're automation work.

    And if you are willing to venture outside of NYC there are lots of companies that like hiring engineers with theatre experience.
     
  7. VegasLites

    VegasLites Member

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    I would also check with the theater consulting section of the world. The combination of theater and electrical engineering is not a common combination and would be a great asset.
    Here are some examples:

    Theater Project Consultants
    Theatre Projects Consultants - welcome
    APF
    Welcome to Auerbach Consultants

    Just a thought!:)
     
  8. chrispo86

    chrispo86 Active Member

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    Thanks for the tips. I'd heard of Hudson Scenic but had never really looked into them and thus forgot about them when I was looking around. That looks like a really neat company to get involved with. I would apply for one of the internships (I'm only 22, it could work :rolleyes: ) but I don't think I'd be able to pull that off with my current job. "Yeah, I need a leave of absence to go see what it's like to work for a different company in a completely different industry." That'd go over great! I really really wish I could pull that one off though. I'll have to plot out the possibilities haha.

    As for consultant work, that's something I hadn't thought of, but that's why I ask these kinds of questions. I'll have to investigate further. I feel like I actually gave a resume to Auerbach when I was going to job fairs at one point though...


    If anybody has other suggestions, please, keep them coming. I'm quite interested to find out the different possibilities that are out there.
     
  9. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    I don't know if you have thought of this, but in some instances the EE element might have more value if you had a PE so that you could stamp drawings and certify work. I know that I've run into this multiple times in the past related to lighting, there is often a disconnect between the theatrical consultant/designer and the Electrical Engineer since any Electrical drawings have to be stamped by a licensed PE in Electrical Engineering for that state but there are ethical and legal issues with an EE stamping work they did not create or control. So be it with a manufacturer, supplier, engineer or designer, someone who understands the theatre aspect and can also address the electrical side and stamp the drawings could be of value.
     
  10. chrispo86

    chrispo86 Active Member

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    Theater Related Engineering Jobs Near NYC

    Hi all! I had a post similar to this back in 2009, but due to my current job situation, I figured I'd see what new info (if any) happened to be out there. My company recently announced it's moving most of its jobs off of Long Island, and as such I've started looking for a replacement job. I'd like to use this situation to my benefit and change fields, and one option I was weighing was moving into the entertainment/theater industry as it's something I've always been greatly interested in. I don't have any formal theater training (I've really only had time to keep it more or less a hobby in recent years), but rather a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering. At the suggestion of someone on here the last time I asked about the subject, I spoke to the guys at Hudson Scenic (great group by the way) and they said that I would probably be over-qualified with a masters (that was back in '09, but I would guess it still applies). So my question to the community is, who's in the NYC/tri-state area that might be looking for an engineer with a masters degree? It seems like most of the major equipment manufacturers that I can think of are out of state. Any suggestions of where to look? Knowing how technical theater has become in recent years, I would have to imagine someone in the industry has a need for engineers, right? Thanks!



    EDIT: PS: Not sure how this ended up as a comment on this thread, I definitely started writing this as a new thread. Wasn't planning on bringing this one back to life.....
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
  11. epimetheus

    epimetheus Well-Known Member

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    Re: Theater Related Engineering Jobs Near NYC

    Have you looked for any design/build companies that specialize in theaters or performance spaces? My recent experience with the AVL consultant for my church's new worship center leads me to believe that more AVL consultants should have licensed electrical PE's who can properly design and specify the power infrastructure to support an AVL installation.
     
  12. chrispo86

    chrispo86 Active Member

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    Re: Theater Related Engineering Jobs Near NYC

    Hmm... didn't think of checking out that direction, though it's definitely a possibility. Thanks for the suggestion.
     
  13. LoboLux

    LoboLux Member

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    Re: Theater Related Engineering Jobs Near NYC

    You might want to check out Barbizon and consider doing Systems, implementing architectural lighting systems for entertainment venues. Barbizon specializes in systems and also provides support in the way of tech support and service, and selling equipment from all production companies in the entertainment industry. There may be a position that could utilize your EE knowledge, like a Systems Integrator perhaps. There is an office in NY. Barbizon Lighting Company Good luck!
     
  14. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    Re: Theater Related Engineering Jobs Near NYC

    So what have you been doing, what kind of role or position are you looking for and how might your backgrounde be applicable to any such change? Is your education and professional experience relevant to power distribution or is it perhaps more relevant to automation and control, digital signal processing or product design?

    First, "design/build" references a Contractor, which is different than a Consultant. But for either, unless they are part of a larger design or construction company then probably few AVL companies do much Electrical Engineering in-house. Basic power distribution is usually the purview of the Project Electrical Engineer while the power after the dimmer rack, after any primary connections for motorized machinery or lifts, etc. is usually handled by the manufacturer of the related equipment. The AVL companies may provide input to the Project Electrical Engineer and layout some of the AVL infrastructure, so if you have a relevant background that certainly could be a useful background and some consulting and contracting firms may find it of benefit. However, unless you are a licensed PE in the states where the work is being done, or the company already has someone in that role that would be responsible for your work, then you couldn't issue and stamp Electrical drawings.
     
  15. chrispo86

    chrispo86 Active Member

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    Re: Theater Related Engineering Jobs Near NYC

    Thanks for the responses. I probably should clarify that my experience is more on the circuit-level (resistors, capacitors, transistors, etc and both digital/analog) than in power systems, however it is an avenue that I've been considering and something that I would be interested in learning more about. I've been a reliability engineer for the past 5 years, during which I've used very little of my college training in engineering, which is part of why I want to get out of the field. Really though I just don't find it interesting. I'm not entirely sure specifically what kind of position I'm looking for and that's a big part of what's making the hunt a difficult task.
     

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