College of Engineering Disney Initiative

Disney InitiativeValparaiso University Engineering students visited Walt Disney World during the 2013 fall break for the 3rd annual Disney Initiative on CreativEngineering.   The students’ goal was to prepare them for creative leadership roles and innovation in a variety of engineering tasks.

    Sixteen engineering students were able to interact, behind the scenes, with creative Disney engineers.  The program provided students with a great opportunity to gain first-hand experience in the techniques of problem solving, leadership, and team building in the Disney world.  Students were able to observe how the Haunted Mansion attraction is operated, designed, and maintained.  Once the tour was completed, the students had the added pleasure of visiting with the Disney engineers in a one on one Q & A session.

     Throughout the week, VU engineering students were able to attend several thought provoking workshops, including the Hollywood Studio Leadership Strategies.  The tour began with learning about the Disney Engineering community problem solving techniques.  The students then applied the practical elements of solving issues that will prepare them for their future careers. 

Finally, the students were involved in a teamwork improvisation workshop.  The students worked together backstage at The Epcot Center to problem solve and learn the best practices of team building.

“I truly enjoyed my time talking with the imagineers. They were great at answering our questions and telling us about what is was like to work for Disney. I am very thankful they were able to take time out of their busy work day to spend time with my peers and myself. That made us feel really special, especially when we got to talk with them after the group photo. It was inspiring to hear the stories about how some of them worked their way up to becoming an imagineer. Overall it was an incredible experience that I will remember for the rest of my life."     Jason Toberman


“Going into this trip, I didn't realize how much I had let my childhood slip from my grasps while growing up.  I remember watching every Disney movie possible while growing up, anything from The Aristocats to Mulan and everything in between, and wanting to be a character in each of these movies.  This trip opened my eyes to the reality that passes us by each day, to grasp and retain each day for its own unique purpose, and most importantly, to never grow up.  I realize that, of course, we all must grow up in a way, but that we should never lose what once inspired the creativity in each of us as a child.  Whether that inspiration come from Disney movies or attempting to become a professional athlete, one must attempt to retain the inspiration that gave us the motivation to be creative as a child and apply it each and every day in our lives as adults."  

Guillermo Aguilar