Dreaming Big

Students intern with Walt Disney Imagineering

Dreaming Big

In January, three students from Baylor’s Theme Park and Engineering Design Club entered the Walt Disney Imagineering Imaginations design competition to turn an abandoned “ghost town” into a theoretical theme park. 

Andrea De Oliveira, Josh Martin and Erin Saylor, BSECE ’18, created a concept called Lion City. The team earned one of six finalist spots out of approximately 200 teams. As finalists, they received a weeklong trip to Walt Disney Imagineering in California to network with executives and get a behind-the-scenes look at how Disney magic is created. The competition seeks to cultivate the next generation of Imagineers, the creative force behind Walt Disney Parks worldwide. 

De Oliveira, a senior mechanical engineering major from Katy, Texas, and Martin, a senior studio art major from Coppell, Texas, received two of 16 paid summer internships offered by Walt Disney Imagineering. They had unforgettable experiences working in California over the summer. Both are officers in Baylor’s Theme Park Engineering and Design club, which was organized about five years ago.

Living in Venezuela and then Florida, De Oliveira grew up frequenting Disney parks. She selected a mechanical engineering major specifically to increase her chances of working with Disney.

“At Baylor I found a community of people who want to be Imagineers, and the support system creates an incredible opportunity in our efforts to eventually work for Disney,” De Oliveira says.

The finalist teams toured the Walt Disney Imagineering studios in Los Angeles, presented their project in front of hiring managers asking questions, and went through individual speed interviews with several different studios. 

“The competition was tough,” Martin says. “You have to know how the industry works and how to express your creativity to stand out. You have to prove that you know how to implement your ideas with a feasible plan that looks good—all within about eight slides. It is hard work.”

Martin, whose favorite Disney film is Up, snagged a graphic design internship from the Environmental Design and Engineering studio. He worked with several other studios on internal designs, everything from full-scale wall murals and window graphics to poster designs and thank you notes.

De Oliveira, a member of Alpha Delta Pi, interned with Project Management and focused on expansion projects for Hong Kong Disneyland. The experience allowed De Oliveira to get a good overview on how Imagineers translate creative visions into detailed development schedules, and even worked with the team responsible for animatronic figures.

“My dream is to produce, working more on the creative side by taking the creative director’s vision and executing that to the fullest extent,” she says. 

Martin and De Oliveira plan to return to their 12-month internships upon graduation with hopes of eventually transitioning to full-time positions in dream jobs with Disney.

“Collaboration and being malleable in how you work is important at Disney, and my time at Baylor has definitely helped me with that,” Martin says. “It isn’t just about who is the smartest, it’s also about creating relationships. Baylor really reinforces that.”