My weekend with Garth
Carson Emeigh, a senior in mechanical and materials engineering, worked up the courage to ask one of the world’s most popular musicians for advice about a possible career path. He ended up with an invitation to work at Garth Brooks’ sold-out concert at Memorial Stadium on Aug. 14, 2021, and also with both professional experience and personal experience of a lifetime.
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[00:00:07.230]Welcome to the complete engineering podcast.
[00:00:09.330]This is Carl Vogel, coming to you from Othmer Hall
[00:00:11.910]on the city campus here in Lincoln.
[00:00:13.916]And today we're going to take a look back at one of the
[00:00:16.326]biggest events in Nebraska history that at least
[00:00:19.540]the University of Nebraska's history this past weekend,
[00:00:22.970]Garth Brooks played at Memorial stadium
[00:00:25.280]in front of 90,000 fans.
[00:00:27.039]First live music performance at the stadium since 1987,
[00:00:32.090]when Live Aid came here.
[00:00:34.140]And today we're going to talk with the Nebraska
[00:00:36.000]engineering student who had a very up close
[00:00:37.830]and personal experience this weekend,
[00:00:39.998]Carson Amy, senior in mechanical engineering.
[00:00:44.306]You got not only to meet Garth Brooks,
[00:00:48.400]but you get to live out kind of a dream, correct?
[00:00:51.830]Oh yes. I'm a big fan of live music and,
[00:00:54.970]it was really something special
[00:00:55.803]to be able to see Garth up close.
[00:00:57.980]But that wasn't just getting to see him up close.
[00:01:01.203]You actually got to get up on stage and
[00:01:04.615]you got to do some work this weekend.
[00:01:07.110]Yeah, I did. I spent a lot of time this weekend
[00:01:09.705]with Garth's production crew.
[00:01:12.470]So that ranges from the audio side, the video side,
[00:01:15.650]the lighting side, and then just the general organization
[00:01:18.260]type of side.
[00:01:19.420]And I got to see a lot of really cool things this weekend
[00:01:21.290]that I wouldn't have ever imagined.
[00:01:23.460]And how did that come about? How,
[00:01:24.900]how did you actually get this job of working with
[00:01:28.474]Garth Brooks, the biggest star in American music right now?
[00:01:33.706]So on Friday he had a soundcheck that UNL students
[00:01:37.375]and faculty could go to.
[00:01:38.986]And loving live music, I decided I would go,
[00:01:42.378]with me and my dad we went, and during it,
[00:01:45.350]he played some songs, checked to make sure you know,
[00:01:47.400]that the speakers were working properly.
[00:01:49.360]And then he did a little Q and A section.
[00:01:51.614]And towards the end I had gained enough confidence
[00:01:54.750]to raise my hand and ask him, you know,
[00:01:57.070]I'm interested to see what a sound engineer does.
[00:01:59.710]How do I get started?
[00:02:01.370]Sure enough. He said, come on over the next day.
[00:02:03.410]So noon and Memorial Stadium, I was with his crew,
[00:02:06.258]getting the shirt ready for the night.
[00:02:08.436]What feelings were going through your mind
[00:02:11.030]when he told you to come back on Saturday?
[00:02:13.480]That that had to be gobsmacking?
[00:02:16.710]It was a lot of disbelief, I was kind of in a daze
[00:02:19.101]from happiness. Just with the,
[00:02:21.381]with that encounter, I guess,
[00:02:24.350]that that's not something that many people get to do.
[00:02:26.300]Yeah. I was just really happy. I guess.
[00:02:28.450]So kind of walk me through a little bit of what your
[00:02:30.840]Saturday was like, most people are
[00:02:32.576]getting to the show at between five and seven.
[00:02:35.721]When did you have to be there?
[00:02:38.330]And what kind of things did you get to do?
[00:02:42.373]so I showed up to Memorial Stadium Saturday at noon
[00:02:45.685]starting then, I worked with one of his technicians and we
[00:02:50.848]just set up the equipment that was going to be used
[00:02:55.240]that night to control the different, you know,
[00:02:57.138]sounds and signals that were being processed.
[00:02:59.690]And then I spent some time with her just getting
[00:03:02.582]the instruments ready.
[00:03:05.000]Then I went over to a different audio engineering side,
[00:03:08.993]we worked with specifically like vocals as well as how the
[00:03:12.840]sounds would reflect off the stadium.
[00:03:15.570]I also got to spend some time at the mixing board.
[00:03:18.290]So, just making sure that everything is in the proper tone
[00:03:21.380]and pitch and frequency that we would need.
[00:03:23.520]And then I also spend a little bit of time with production.
[00:03:27.260]So like they're the people who would organize everything
[00:03:29.690]as well as video and lighting.
[00:03:30.890]So the people who do the lighting and then the big TVs
[00:03:33.650]throughout the stadium, and then around five,
[00:03:37.040]we had everything finished off and it was time to let people
[00:03:39.690]funnel in and get ready for the show.
[00:03:41.700]Were you like super nervous getting,
[00:03:43.438]getting this opportunity? I mean, what was,
[00:03:46.200]what were you feeling on Saturday?
[00:03:47.977]So I was nervous on Friday just because so much had just
[00:03:52.330]But by Saturday I was able to collect my composure
[00:03:55.708]and I was on my, I was on a job,
[00:03:58.250]so I didn't have time to be starstruck.
[00:04:00.210]Have you done much work with sound
[00:04:02.570]and live music in the past?
[00:04:05.101]I haven't done anything with music,
[00:04:07.228]but at one point I worked for NET
[00:04:09.490]or public broadcasting service here.
[00:04:12.310]I worked with the video and sound equipment over at the
[00:04:15.770]State Capitol for their courtrooms,
[00:04:17.850]as well as I did a little bit of work with their
[00:04:19.750]conference room, getting microphone setups in that room.
[00:04:22.960]So, I haven't done music before,
[00:04:25.130]but I have done a little bit of
[00:04:26.410]sound engineering in the past.
[00:04:27.940]So how would you categorize your experience this weekend
[00:04:31.070]from an engineering standpoint? Was it,
[00:04:32.919]was it like being in one of the classes that you were here
[00:04:36.560]and kind of having everything concentrated in one day?
[00:04:39.593]Yeah. It was,
[00:04:40.426]it was really crazy from the engineering side,
[00:04:43.010]I'm a super big nerd and I was able to see all the equipment
[00:04:48.030]I used at NET come together to form something completely
[00:04:50.898]different, which was really cool.
[00:04:53.060]And surprisingly, I got a lot of lessons on kinematics,
[00:04:56.500]believe it or not just with all of the rigging and set up
[00:04:59.289]and how they, you know,
[00:05:00.870]get all that heavy stuff into the positions that they need
[00:05:03.066]and hold it in the positions that they need as well as move
[00:05:06.586]the systems during the show for the performance.
[00:05:10.600]So what kind of engineering lessons did you learn
[00:05:14.630]this weekend? What kinds of things did you get
[00:05:16.980]from the Garth Brooks crew that you can take an apply?
[00:05:21.190]Now here's a senior in the Canticle engineering.
[00:05:24.500]I think after my time with Garth Brooks,
[00:05:26.627]I definitely understand how signals work a lot more.
[00:05:30.853]and I understand how we can link those signals together
[00:05:33.740]to get one clean output, as well as again,
[00:05:37.810]with the whole kinematic side,
[00:05:38.850]I didn't realize how much mechanics it takes to build
[00:05:42.320]systems like that in order to create the
[00:05:46.000]effects that you see when he's on the stage.
[00:05:48.424]So it was a lot of learning on both the signal side of
[00:05:53.890]things, as well as the mechanical side of things.
[00:05:56.700]You're not new to getting hands-on experience
[00:05:59.750]in engineering. You're doing something else I think is cool.
[00:06:03.420]You're an undergrad, who's doing research
[00:06:05.788]and it's not unique, but I think it's always really cool
[00:06:10.210]when our undergrad students get opportunities
[00:06:13.050]to do research. What, what kind of work are you doing
[00:06:15.560]in mechanical engineering right now?
[00:06:17.170]And who are you working with?
[00:06:18.680]So, right now I work in a laboratory with Dr. Rio
[00:06:21.832]and we are a fluids laboratory.
[00:06:23.780]More specifically, I work on,
[00:06:26.019]I work with microfluidic devices.
[00:06:28.687]So over the past year,
[00:06:30.300]I have been able to learn how to create devices that other
[00:06:33.410]scientists can use to study cells.
[00:06:34.850]And it's been really, really great.
[00:06:37.357]I, I found a very large passion in research.
[00:06:41.011]I enjoy spending my time in the lab.
[00:06:43.370]I enjoy the people I work with overall. They're very,
[00:06:46.160]very supportive and they've showed me a lot of really cool
[00:06:49.280]things that, you know, I would have never even imagined.
[00:06:52.610]I also really love presenting and that's something that I've
[00:06:54.790]gotten to experience with my research position,
[00:06:57.590]whether it be for like you care or just research fairs or a
[00:07:02.180]SME, for example, and those kinds of things.
[00:07:04.360]So some of the experiences that you've had
[00:07:06.460]with presenting and getting to stand up in front of people,
[00:07:09.920]did that help you Friday when you were trying to work up
[00:07:12.930]the courage to ask Garth Brooks of what it takes
[00:07:15.860]to be a sound engineer?
[00:07:17.030]Oh, most definitely. Yeah.
[00:07:19.050]Building my communication skills has been really good for me
[00:07:21.100]to be able to go out and do the things I want and even,
[00:07:24.769]getting on a stage in front of 90,000 people that that can
[00:07:28.356]be a little nerve wracking, but again,
[00:07:30.696]I'm used to being behind the camera.
[00:07:33.330]So I think it worked out.
[00:07:34.280]You said you're up there in front of 90,000 people
[00:07:36.430]Saturday night, he calls you out.
[00:07:38.485]What was it like being on stage?
[00:07:41.581]And most of us are never going to experience that.
[00:07:43.450]So tell us what it's like to be up there
[00:07:45.560]in the bright lights.
[00:07:46.810]It feels really good.
[00:07:47.868]I got to go twice once to shoot the confetti cannon
[00:07:51.520]and I was able to high-five Garth.
[00:07:52.858]And then once again, when he introduced me,
[00:07:55.847]it's really loud there, everyone was just
[00:07:58.939]flying off the handle and it was really cool.
[00:08:02.194]Thankfully, the lights that are pointing on the stage
[00:08:04.830]are really bright. So it made it hard to see out
[00:08:06.950]to all the people.
[00:08:08.246]So that kind of helped to ease my nerves a little bit,
[00:08:11.030]but it was a really different experience that I'm really
[00:08:13.673]grateful I was able to have.
[00:08:15.760]Now, you probably wouldn't have had this experience,
[00:08:18.240]had you not been an engineering student, correct?
[00:08:21.660]Did you ever think being an engineering student you'd have
[00:08:25.040]90,000 people cheering when they heard your name?
[00:08:27.820]Well, I always knew with engineering,
[00:08:29.980]I'd be able to do something cool that interests me.
[00:08:31.970]I just didn't know it would be that cool.
[00:08:33.590]Yeah, cool, so I'll tell you it's one of those things that
[00:08:37.154]I think a lot of us would dream that we had
[00:08:39.530]the opportunity to do, and you're going to be working on
[00:08:43.133]big things in the future. So what,
[00:08:45.866]what is it you think you might be interested in doing down
[00:08:49.040]the line once you're in the past year,
[00:08:51.348]your undergraduate experience here?
[00:08:53.781]Yeah. So for my future, I think my,
[00:08:57.570]my heart lies in academia.
[00:08:59.272]I've always loved learning. I've always loved teaching.
[00:09:02.620]I think in the long run I will end up in academia.
[00:09:06.020]I think that's my plan.
[00:09:07.290]All right. So you're familiar with the complete engineers.
[00:09:11.370]The technical backgrounds, communication inclusiveness.
[00:09:13.581]From that perspective,
[00:09:15.103]what sorts of things helped you this weekend that
[00:09:19.431]they stressed in those fields?
[00:09:21.346]Well, I think the things through the complete engineer
[00:09:24.170]that really helped me this weekend was
[00:09:26.310]most definitely my communication skills.
[00:09:28.985]Being able to talk to the people that I was around
[00:09:32.010]and try to understand the ideas they were explaining to me,
[00:09:34.980]as well as just having the confidence to be able to,
[00:09:37.620]you know, ask how can I get here?
[00:09:39.504]I think that teamwork was really, really important
[00:09:41.930]because there were so many people this weekend
[00:09:44.200]that if they don't all work together, well,
[00:09:45.521]the show won't go on.
[00:09:47.960]What sorts of advice would you have for other engineering
[00:09:53.080]students or prospective engineering students about
[00:09:57.300]stepping out of their comfort zone
[00:10:00.060]and doing something that maybe they wouldn't normally do?
[00:10:03.900]What I would say is just,
[00:10:04.900]don't be afraid to ask questions.
[00:10:07.050]If you ask questions, people will know
[00:10:08.820]what you're interested in and people are
[00:10:11.380]willing to help you out with that.
[00:10:13.220]The biggest things that have helped me get out of my
[00:10:14.780]comfort zone are my communication skills.
[00:10:17.480]So not being afraid to go to people when I want to
[00:10:20.630]say something as well as I just like to try new things.
[00:10:24.990]And so I'm not going to let something as silly as
[00:10:27.100]my embarrassment get in the way of that.
[00:10:29.880]And so I guess my advice would be to,
[00:10:32.230]don't be afraid to put yourself out there
[00:10:33.660]and I know that's super generic and basic,
[00:10:35.580]but that's really what it comes down to, I guess.
[00:10:38.290]And because you did that,
[00:10:39.820]you got to experience one of the biggest things you've
[00:10:44.490]experienced in your lifetime. So from that perspective,
[00:10:47.306]tell me, what does this weekend mean to you?
[00:10:50.371]Oh, it will always be something I remember,
[00:10:53.620]you know, again, like I said, I've always loved live music.
[00:10:56.750]And so being able to see how that all comes together
[00:10:59.330]and how much work and how many people it takes
[00:11:01.520]to create a show as spectacular as that, has been really,
[00:11:04.950]really interesting and awesome for me to
[00:11:07.265]finally experience firsthand.
[00:11:09.950]So how difficult was it to be part of this crew
[00:11:13.530]and not be singing along to the song?
[00:11:15.264](chuckles) Oh, don't get me wrong.
[00:11:17.270]I was singing, but it, it was a lot of fun.
[00:11:21.080]It was definitely a different role than just
[00:11:22.650]going to a concert and, you know,
[00:11:24.240]watching it, throughout the entire day,
[00:11:26.250]I had tasks that needed to be completed.
[00:11:28.250]And if they weren't completed on time,
[00:11:30.160]we wouldn't have been able to do it,
[00:11:31.047]you know, what had happened.
[00:11:32.980]And did you get to take anything home?
[00:11:34.834]Oh yeah. Garth was really nice.
[00:11:36.690]He, he sent me up with a slag bag, so I got a few shirts.
[00:11:39.642]I got like an, an event pass. That was pretty cool.
[00:11:42.813]And I actually do a lot of scrapbooking with my concerts.
[00:11:46.130]So a lot of that stuff will definitely
[00:11:47.530]be making it into there.
[00:11:48.710]Did you get to selfie anything?
[00:11:51.672]I went in with the mindset that I'm on a job right now.
[00:11:55.942]And so I didn't even ask him for an autograph. I was just,
[00:11:58.760]you know, thank you for this position.
[00:12:00.130]I'm like really grateful and I'm excited to see you perform.
[00:12:03.583]Well, I think there's time to wrap up
[00:12:06.209]a big weekend and Carson, I know it's been a,
[00:12:11.159]a whirlwind for you. Any last thoughts that you have
[00:12:15.210]about this weekend and, school starts in a week.
[00:12:18.520]How are you going to be able to come down from that?
[00:12:21.650]I'm looking forward to school because
[00:12:23.090]I'm looking forward to continue education.
[00:12:24.810]And I just want to say thank you to Garth and his team.
[00:12:28.030]They put in a lot of time and effort to make sure
[00:12:29.870]that I had a really great experience.
[00:12:31.290]And I wasn't just someone who stood on the sidelines.
[00:12:33.700]They actually took the time to show me what they do and
[00:12:36.150]how they do it and why it's important.
[00:12:38.823]So I would just like to thank Garth and his team
[00:12:40.870]for all of their work, as well as I'd like to thank you
[00:12:43.010]for having me on today. It's been really great.
[00:12:44.630]It's been great having you, and it's been
[00:12:46.490]a fun conversation and congratulations on the big weekend.
[00:12:49.913]That's going to be it for this episode
[00:12:52.630]of the complete engineering podcast. Check back in.
[00:12:55.590]We'll have more episodes coming later in the fall semester.
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