If you ask the average college sophomore what he or she did over the summer, the odds of receiving an answer similar to that of Nick Metzler are very slim. That is because this summer, Nick, who is a 2012 Brother Rice graduate, had the opportunity of a lifetime: to travel to the Philippines to work as a crew artist for the hit reality show Survivor. Now in its 27th season, Survivor is a show that maroons a group of total strangers on a desolate island, forcing them to work together in tribes to obtain essentials like food, water, and fire. In order to secure these essentials, the contestants must complete challenges like obstacle courses, puzzles, and riddles. The main part of Nick’s job was designing and testing the challenges featured on the show. While some spent the summer sleeping in, relaxing, or working the typical summer job, Nick was spending his days in the warm, tropical sunshine “listening to great music while painting tons of stuff for a television show.” “It’s unreal to be honest… It’s almost like college minus the classes and homework,” said Nick regarding his time in the Philippines.
Of course, it was not all fun and games. Nick spent a total of fifteen weeks on the island and during that time, he was tasked with painting and designing set pieces for the show. Nick also helped in designing challenge courses and carrying tripods and props to and from the set as needed. Each challenge was tested twice before it could actually be aired on the show: once to ensure that the challenge was safe and worked properly, then again with all cameras running and props painted. Aside from helping design the various puzzles, courses, and riddles, Nick got the chance to test them out with his fellow crew members. On testing the various challenges Nick says, “When else in your life can you run giant obstacle courses in the water and solve puzzles? It was home sweet home for me.”
When they were not working on the set, Nick and his crew had a bit of down time. In an e-mail sent over the summer Nick said, “We have several days off; I’ve already gone wakeboarding about eight or nine times and that has been amazing.” In addition to catching some waves, Nick got to experience what he calls, “one of the most memorable ten minutes of my life.” He is talking about going for a joy ride in a helicopter. When the producers wanted footage of a helicopter flying over the beautiful landscape, Nick jumped at the chance to be a part of it. During his stay, Nick went hiking in the mountains, swimming in natural pools, and even tried his hand at spear fishing. Nick said, “Turns out I’m pretty good at it! The tough part is diving down 40 feet and waiting for some fish to swim by, all while holding your breath.” Of his summer experience Nick says, “What I did over the summer was follow my passions and dreams. Yes, it sounds incredibly clichéd, but I didn’t work one single day over the summer because the job was so much fun.”
Since the summer, Nick is back at school at University of Southern California where he is a sophomore studying business administration with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. Nick says, “Brother Rice has prepared me in so many ways for college. The culture at Rice is pretty unique. Rice allowed me to be completely myself.” In addition to his classes, Nick also creates his own board games. Nick says, “It turned from a mere hobby to somewhat of a career for me. It’s what I’m passionate about.” Nick’s game, Squashed, was picked up by a toy and game company and brought to the market. The game made its debut less than two weeks ago, and now Nick has the opportunity to travel around the country to different game conventions to try and sell his one-of-a-kind product. It is safe to say Nick Metzler had a stellar summer and is enjoying his college experience. For anyone who would like to do what Nick has done or is doing now, his advice is to have as much fun at Rice as you can. He says, “Go to every basketball and football game and just live up this unique experience.” On achieving your dreams Nick admits, “There’s no formula, but what I’ve found is that lots of people know other people. If you have unlimited ammo and you take enough shots in the dark, eventually you’ll hit something.”
NOTE: Squashed, the game created by Nick Metzler, has been nominated for the Young Inventor of the Year award, and the winner is decided by public voting. Please vote for Nick at: http://www.tagieawards.com/us/poll2013/younginventorpoll.php