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Establishing An Entertainment Engineering Curriculum

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Integrating H&SS in Engineering I

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.581.1 - 10.581.10



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Paper Authors

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Robert Boehm

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Brackley Frayer

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Joe Aldridge

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Establishing an Entertainment Engineering Curriculum

Robert F. Boehm Mechanical Engineering Department and Joe Aldridge and Brackley Frayer Theatre Department

University of Nevada Las Vegas Las Vegas, NV 89154


A new, multidisciplinary program in Entertainment Engineering and Design is being established at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. The name of the program could be defined in a number of ways because few programs of this type exist and the field is so broad. Our emphasis is on the application of technology to enhance the entertainment value of live shows and rides. Steps being taken to establish this program are outlined, starting with an undergraduate minor and moving to an undergraduate major. The role of entertainment-based businesses in the development of this new program is also described.


Las Vegas has offered entertainment experiences to the world for many years. It started with the legalization of gambling (currently the somewhat more subtle name “gaming” is used) in the first third of the 20th century. While the casino hotels still look to gaming to furnish a significant part of their income, their management has concluded that they can attract return customers more frequently and draw more new customers if they offer a broader range of entertainment experiences. Early approaches with the use of lounge acts still exist, but these have been supplemented with a variety of shows where technology is used to give additional dimensions to the entertainment experience.

It is hard to say when the trend started. Perhaps it was in 1973, when the Ziegfeld showroom opened at the MGM Grand (now Bally’s). It was the precursor to most of the technology found in today’s Las Vegas showrooms. Then came the design of the touring version of the Siegfried and Roy show in the late 1980s. Technological inventiveness was definitely a key ingredient of entertainment when the many new blockbuster hotels opened on the Las Vegas Strip in the early 1990s.

Most of the early technologically based shows were conceived, designed, and operated by people with a theatre background. Theatre has always had a technical side to it, but this has typically meant the ability to construct scenery, specify and set up lights, and a variety of other issues in traditional theatre. With the computer era came the ability to automate shows and to control

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Boehm, R., & Frayer, B., & Aldridge, J. (2005, June), Establishing An Entertainment Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14298

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