ISE student helps engineer exciting experience for Buckeye fans
The lights dim in the Schottenstein Center as The Ohio State University women’s basketball starting lineup is about to be announced. A video appears on the Jumbotron showcasing the team and hyping up the crowd. After the lineups are announced and the teams have taken the court to get ready for tipoff, an animation of Brutus Buckeye pops up with the words “get loud” and the arena reaches a deafening roar.
The videos and animations shown at many Ohio State sporting events are integral to the fan experience. They help coordinate cheers, provide entertainment and increase fans’ excitement. However, not many fans realize the amount of preparation, expertise and work that goes into making sure the event runs smoothly, said industrial and systems engineering (ISE) major Ryan Lawler.
Lawler is a videoboard graphics operator for Ohio State Athletics. Although his academic background is unique among his student co-workers, he said his passion for “the hybridization of engineering and business,” along with hospitality and entertainment, has helped him be successful in the role.
“Although the other students involved have typically been art and technology majors with backgrounds and ambitions in animation, I was able to relate some of my high school Photoshop and video projects, in addition to my passion for the entertainment industry, to help qualify myself as an engineer who could fit the bill,” he said.
Lawler’s interest in engineering began at a young age. He enjoyed drawing rudimentary designs for different machines and building contraptions with K’NEX. Frequent visits to Cedar Point piqued his interest in roller coasters and the work that goes into constructing them.
Although much of his training has been on the job, Lawler said ISE courses like the project management ones he has taken with Professor Jack Slavinski that cover teamwork and management strategies have been useful in his collaborative role.
“My classes with Dr. David Woods and Dr. Mike Rayo focusing on systems thinking have helped me to always keep different fan and stakeholder perspectives in mind, and assisted me in anticipating potential scenarios that may require my response within the scope of an event,” Lawler said.
One of the most important facets of Lawler’s job is collaborating with other teams and sponsors to share their messages while not inundating fans with too much material. Each event has a script that lays out every announcement, sponsorship, media timeout, etc., and making sure the event follows this script is top priority.
“It's very important that we ensure sponsors receive their appropriate airtime,” he said, “but we also have creative license to fill the rest of the event with situational animations pertaining to in-game action.”
One area of improvement Lawler has seen in himself over his more than three years as videoboard operator is dealing with technical issues quickly by using problem-solving skills honed in his engineering courses.
“The job can certainly be stressful at times, particularly given the high visibility of our work, but I could not imagine a more enjoyable on-campus job,” he said.
As for his favorite part of the job, Lawler said that raising the level of excitement for fans, whether it be at the Schottenstein Center or St. John Arena, gets him pumped up as well.
“Helping create uniquely memorable, high-energy fan experiences is something I’ve very much enjoyed during my last six semesters working with Ohio State Athletics,” he said.
by Zach Konno, College of Engineering student communications assistant