Wet Design Founder Speaks to ME Class
October 12, 2015
The seed for Mark Fuller’s multi-million-dollar business was right there in his head. He just needed to add a little water.
The University of Utah alumnus and founder of California-based WET Design, which designs elaborate water fountains, was at the College of Engineering campus Friday, Oct. 9, speaking to a mechanical engineering fluid mechanics class about how he turned his renowned company into the creator of visual wet wonders.
Fuller was introduced to the concepts of how water behaves while taking a fluid dynamics class in the 1970s. He was in the U’s Merrill Engineering Building watching a black-and-white film about “laminar flow” and seeing how water could shoot outward in one long stream. With that idea in mind, he went to a shop in the building and built nozzles that could produce those same kinds of streams. He then installed them in his parent’s backyard in Salt Lake City. It would be his first fountain.
“Never pass every little thing,” Fuller said about that day watching the film and discovering the concept of laminar flow. “It could grow into something big.”
During college, Fuller took every kind of physics and engineering class he could find and even spent much of his time in the U’s theater department where he designed a fire prop for a department play that was operated with a garage door opener. He would receive his bachelor’s in civil engineering and then a master’s in mechanical engineering at Stanford. He also was an Imagineer for the Walt Disney Company before forming WET Design in 1983.
WET Design, which is in Sun Valley, California, now has 300 employees and has produced fountains in more than 20 countries. WET has worked on the famous fountain at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas as well as the 2002 Winter Olympics cauldron in Salt Lake City. It also produced the The Dubai Fountain in downtown Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the largest choreographed water fountain in the world.
Fuller also has returned to the U this week to possibly recruit students for his company.
“Don’t think about the jobs per se. Think about what you really want to do with your life,” he said to the students about shaping their futures. “We at WET get to do some pretty neat stuff. We get to take the neatest element on the planet — which is essential to life — and we get to reconnect people with that. It’s wonderful to do something where people get to reconnect viscerally with that part of nature.”
Read a biography about Mark Fuller in the latest issue of the University of Utah’s Continuum magazine.