Ethics in structural design and mechanical design for live entertainment scenery

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Vieira, David Vincent

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Scenic construction requires a strong understanding of a range of principles related to construction including: materials strength properties, mechanical components, electrical motor systems, fluid power systems, and finishing techniques. A manager of scenic construction, or a Technical Director (TD), is required to take artistic designs and ideas and create magical elements on stage that are safe for performers, installers, operators, and audiences. In order to create these onstage spectacles, a great deal of planning, engineering, and careful fabrication must take place. There are several ways for a Technical Director to gain the knowledge required to effectively work at any level of entertainment production. This mixed-methods research study asks: what are the ethical standards that guide how a TD’s work is completed? The thesis begins with a review of the job of the Technical Director in Live Entertainment and data from a survey conducted of professionals in scenic technology. Results from the survey were analyzed to provide both quantitative data, in the form of statistics, and qualitative response data. Additional discussion addresses a sample of the resources for structural design support available currently to the field, as well as challenges that some professionals confront in their typical practice. The thesis concludes a review of literature around engineering ethics and liability in engineering practice and recommendations for the incorporation of new ethical standards in live entertainment scenic production.



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