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Nicholas Rollin sitting at the lighting control board in UD's Boll Theatre

An engineer in theater: “To thine own self be true.”

Nicholas Rollin felt split in two. As a mechanical engineering major, he was invested in his studies, but he also wanted to explore his love for technical theater. Instead of having to pick, Rollin found wholeness at UD.

"When I was accepted to UD's mechanical engineering program, I was doing theater in high school. I looked into UD's theater program, but didn't know if I would have the time to do both," Rollin said. "I set up a visit and met with (Boll Theatre Manager and Technical Director) Matt Evans and he told me about the student jobs that were available. From then on, I branched out with both my love for engineering and theater."

Rollin works as a student technician at Boll Theatre around his engineering classes. His work helping create sets, program lighting and run audio for 20 productions on campus led to a theatre, dance and performance technology minor. He's also worked seven shows off campus with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and concerts, including Jonas Brothers and Dave Matthews Band.

At the same time, Rollin completed three co-op semesters between 2021 and 2022 with MSA Safety Inc. to help develop equipment for fall safety, similar to harnesses used by professional stage hands and technicians.

"For me, engineering hits one side of my mind that enjoys the analytical, math-heavy and technical side of the world, while theater caters to the other side and lets me explore the artistic and creative side of things," Rollin said. "I've gone back and forth about my future, if I want to have an engineering desk job and do theater as a hobby, but I know for a fact that I want to do both because they are ingrained parts of me."

However uncertain post-graduation life is to Rollin, his immediate future is clear: bounce between labs, class and the theater as he prepares for the next show.


News and Communications Staff