If you’ve been on campus, you might have seen me walking backwards in front of a group of families, talking loudly with large hand gestures, including the occasional “Fight On!”. As a tour guide, I have plenty of opportunities to talk about why I chose USC, but not how I knew majoring in mechanical engineering was the right choice for me.

My biggest inspiration in life is roller coasters. Not in the metaphorical sense of “life is like a roller coaster”… I mean I actually love roller coasters. For as long as I can remember (literally), I have always been fascinated with roller coasters. Even as a toddler obviously not tall enough to ride anything significant at an amusement park, I would still stand motionless watching the same rides over and over again, each time being met with the same level of excitement. My parents indulged this childish interest of mine by taking me to amusement parks because they thought it was just a trivial interest of a 3 year-old and that the phase would pass.

They were wrong. It did not.

As a second grader playing the PC game Roller Coaster Tycoon, I had the sudden realization that if I was designing roller coasters on a game, somebody has to design them in real life. I then established that my dream job was to be a roller coaster designer, and I have followed that ever since. Throughout the years, I continued to find interest in science and math, and I finally put the name “mechanical engineering” in conjunction with roller coaster design.

I am also a roller coaster photographer on the side!

When I came to USC, my choice in engineering was confirmed. Though I have only taken Introduction to Mechanical Engineering and Thermodynamics, the classes felt like a natural stepping stone for me, and I was not only excited by the material I was learning, but also comfortable with the concepts and its implications on my future as well. I instantly became friends with my classmates, readily grasped the concepts taught, and loved working with robotics and SolidWorks, one of the most prevalent 3D modeling softwares in the industry. 

I still love roller coasters as much as I did when I was a toddler. I research them in downtime, I design them using industry software, and I travel the country (and the world!) finding new rides to add to my list (currently 146 long… and going strong). While I have not yet physically designed my own roller coaster, I credit this passion to where I am today.

Nick Bortolon

Nick Bortolon

MAJOR: Mechanical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2022 HOMETOWN: Alamo, California PRONOUNS: he/him/his INSTA: @nick_bortolon On campus I am a Student Ambassador (better known as a Tour Guide) and I am part of the USC Club Rock Climbing Team. In my free time, I like to ride roller coasters, compose music for piano, and explore Los Angeles.