Every component of our system requires a litany of skills to develop and build. Our staff has a mix of engineers, programmers, theater technicians, and machinists. We bring in interns with diverse backgrounds and training as well. Our last 2017 intern is a perfect example of solid mechanical know-how, theater experience, and engineering training.
As a senior studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Virginia, Danton Wein’s interest in scenic automation evolved before high school, where he was a light and sound board operator along with being a part of the stage crew. That interest continued at UVA, where he works in the Theatre department as a carpenter and welder. Danton’s has also worked at UVA’s Heritage Theater Festival but realized that working at Creative Conners would provide a much deeper knowledge of scenic automation than just building a show.
Since UVA uses Creative Conners’ gear exclusively, Danton has known our products for some time. When the UVA’s shop foreman advised him to apply for an internship Danton says “I gave it a shot. I emailed Gareth, interviewed, and landed a position a week later.” We hope all his job searches go so smoothly.
Danton’s skill set was a great match for much of the fabrication and milling work we do and we were glad he joined us.
What’d You Do This Summer?
Each morning kicked off with a team meeting, where everyone touched base about their projects and Gareth laid out the day’s game plan. Then he would work with the crew, helping with projects and working independently. Danton is most proud of one particular project – designing and building a custom machine for a TV studio. He built a lever that pneumatically actuates and opens and closes a door. The geometry and cylinder mounting involved were tricky but a challenge that Danton was excited to overcome. He says the experience of working directly with Gareth Conner on design principles, from initial concept to final product, was invaluable. “I’d never started from a completely clean slate drawing board to design concepts, using actual modeling in CAD,” says Danton. “Seeing it done was awesome.”
The studio project consumed a healthy chunk of our summer production schedule and Danton leapt right in. When he finally saw his project on screen it was rewarding to know that his work was on display.
Welcome to Rhode Island
Danton’s most surprising revelation was how welcoming the Creative Conners team is. He would make jokes and references that the crew would understand immediately, and he bonded with the team quickly. Coming to RI from Richmond, VA, ten hours away, Danton knew absolutely no one, and the friendships he formed helped him feel at home. He says, “It was amazing to me how much I fit in and how great of a team is here” Living in Rhode Island had its charms. “I’ve spent a lot of time hammocking in Colt State Park enjoying the gorgeous views. I hadn’t lived this close to a coastline before.” It turns out that the smallest state in the union is a pretty cool place to spend your summers.
After graduation, Danton is considering a master’s program in Mechanical Engineering. After that, he looks forward to a bright career in the theater automation industry, for which his Creative Conners internship helped him prepare. We know we will be seeing him again doing bigger and better things (maybe even with us).