Four Notre Dame students finalists in Disney Imagineering contest

Author: Sue Ryan

Spirit Of The Isle Spirit of the Isle

A team of four University of Notre Dame students has advanced to the finals of the 26th Walt Disney Imagineering Imaginations Design Competition, a contest created to encourage students to consider careers in creative and technical fields including digital arts, engineering and architecture.

According to Disney, this year’s competition challenged students to apply the same design principles used in creating Disney’s famous theme parks, resorts and immersive experiences to develop new outdoor spaces within their own college or university. The students were encouraged to address the diverse needs of students, faculty and visitors while also providing a respite from the stresses of everyday life.

Notre Dame students senior Mark Davidson (Boca Raton, Florida), senior Jessica Klouda (Lisle, Illinois), senior Erin Rice (Lake Forest, Illinois) and graduate student Madeline Zupan (Ashland, Ohio) designed a project titled “Spirit of the Isle” that allows visitors, friends and students to momentarily enter into a “stress-free world of magical fun.” Guests enter a manmade island from behind a waterfall and experience an engaging amphitheater unfolding below. Guests can choose to explore sweeping terraces or venture into a cave beneath the falls, which can double as an ice-skating rink in the winter. For others seeking solitude, individual pods provide a place for quiet contemplation or creativity with hands-on interactive displays.

The Notre Dame team is one of six teams from a field of more than 300 to advance to the finals. They will compete against teams consisting of 21 students from the Carnegie Mellon University, Iowa State University, University of California San Diego, Howard University, Miami University and Savannah College of Art and Design. The Spirit of the Isle project was developed as part of the classwork in the Notre Dame Collaborative Product Development course in the College of Arts and Letters collaborative innovation minor.

The Imaginations competition’s finalists are each awarded a five-day all-expense-paid trip to Disney’s Imagineering in Glendale, California, from Jan. 23 to 27, where they will present their projects to Imagineering executives and take part in an awards ceremony on Jan. 27. Finalists also have the opportunity to meet and network with Imagineers, go behind the scenes where Disney magic is created and interview for paid internships during their visit. According to the company, the competition is one of the ways that Walt Disney Imagineering searches for the next generation of talented theme park designers.

For more information on the students, click here.