Madigan asked Kim Wheeler, The Walt Disney Company

AddedTuesday, October 2, 2018 at 1:18 PM

Is a career at Disney in Structural Engineering a possibility?

Hi Kim,

I just scrolled through the many questions you have answered and I think is it amazing that you offer advice to aspiring engineers. It means a lot for students like myself to hear from professionals in the industry we look up to. Working for Disney as an imagineer is my dream job. I am a senior in Civil Engineering looking at going to grad school for Structural Engineering. I've been doing a lot of research to figure out if a career with Disney is even possible for me.

Here are some questions I have for you:

  1. I've read on many sources that chances are slim to be hired on as a structural engineer because Disney hires other companies for that kind of work, is this true?
  2. For the structural engineers that work at Disney, do you know what kind projects they are involved in?
  3. Is it wiser to try for a job at Disney right out of grad school or job experience at another company they apply as an experienced engineer?
Related to Civil, Internships & Jobs
  • Kim Wheeler , The Walt Disney Company
    Answered Tuesday, October 16, 2018 at 11:43 AM
    Hey Madigan
    Nice to hear from you! So there are some truths to what you said but I also have good news: Disney does hire Structural Engineers! We have an entire structural engineering department under our Architecture and Facilities Engineering group. This group supports all kinds of projects from Attractions structural modifications, facilities structures, resorts, Disney springs, our transportation systems and everything in between. The structural department provides expertise on adhering to building codes while sticking with Disney specific requirements. While it is true often times we hire external firms to help with structural engineering, the Disney structural engineering department provides a second set of eyes to the work. Part of the reason why we hire companies outside is because of the sheer volume of work that comes through. This could range from site sustainment projects (for example refurbishing attractions, retrofitting existing attractions to new themes or modifying existing structures) to new resort expansions like Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge or the Guardian's of the Galaxy Rollercoaster.
    Having said that, I know several structural engineers who work for Walt Disney Imagineering as well as our project management departments, safety departments and other areas. They don't practice engineering per se, but they use the skills learned in engineering school and apply them to construction management, safety practices or other facets of our very diverse company. 
    As for your last question I think that is a hard one to answer. I know several folks that have gotten hired right out of internships/school but also several that have been hired externally with more experience, it depends on if the hiring manager is looking for someone with several years of experience or not. Getting an internship or participating in the college program at least gets you a foot in the door and gives you contacts so that you can come back later, or look at options for staying on full time post graduation.
    I hope this helps!
    Kind regards,