Reno engineering firm finds zip-line niche
In 2008, Reno engineer Jared Krupa began searching for work in different avenues to counter the construction downturn sweeping the state.
Engineering work had all but vanished at the firm Krupa co-founded in 1999, and K2 Engineering and Structural Design had trimmed down its staff of 15 to face the reduced workload.
“It didn’t just slow down, it stopped,” Krupa says. “Laying guys off was no fun.”
Krupa found new revenue working in the amusement industry by providing engineering specifications and inspections to zip line operators — and K2 Engineering now draws between 20 and 30 percent of its annual revenue from work in the aerial amusement industry.
One of his first jobs was working for zip line company Flightlinez, which planned a temporary zip line at Fremont Street Experience in North Las Vegas. Krupa was hired to inspect the company’s plans and oversee installation of the line. The success of that zip line eventually led to development of Slotzilla, a 10-story tall zip line built by Zip-Flyer that takes riders 1,750 feet atop Fremont Street at speeds up to 40 miles per hour.
Krupa was the inspecting engineer on Slotzilla.
“I go through and check all the calcs, make sure they use the right criteria, check wind loads, rescue loads, all the different things that can happen to a zip line that an engineer needs to consider,” he says.
More recently, K2 Engineering worked with Heavenly Mountain Resort to develop three aerial ropes courses at the top of the gondola area near Tamarack Lodge. Work varies between inspecting and engineering and has taken Krupa to new zip line installations at Catalina Island, Vancouver, and several other states. Since 2008 he’s worked on more than 30 zip lines as an inspector or with tower and tramway manufacturers on quality control and quality assurance.
In the beginning Krupa studied rigging and cable engineering calculations used for ski lift/tramway operations and roller coaster guidelines to provide engineering specifications for platforms and towers. In 2012, Krupa and a team of engineers helped create standards for zip line design that are now used by the American Society for Testing and Materials to regulate development and installation of aerial adventure courses.
In addition to the new revenue being generated, it’s also provided for some fun outings testing equipment in various locations.
“I can engineer houses and structures in my sleep,” Krupa says. “For the first part of my career I just sat in a cubicle and crunched numbers for 12 hours a day. I’ve got plenty of guys who can crunch numbers. One of my favorite things is to get out there, meet people and see projects come to fruition. Even more fun is to go out there and be 300 feet off the ground suspended on brake line inspecting cables.
“It is just another arm of K2,” he adds. “We have a land development/civil design side, a powerful drafting team, and now we have an amusement arm that is divided into design and inspecting. It’s just one more thing for us to engineer.”
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