IDSA Education Symposium Chair Leads Award Winning Student Team

Notre Dame Students Score Big in Disney Imagineering Design Competition

Feb 22 2017 - 9:27am

An interdisciplinary team of four Notre Dame University students, taught by IDSA/Eastman Education Symposium 2017 Chair and IDSA Board of Directors Education VP Scott Shim, has won second place in the Walt Disney Imagineering Imaginations Design Competition 2017. "This project is a perfect example of showcasing the scope of industrial design today," says Shim. "Students were asked to think collectively and holistically through a human centered approach that accelerates innovative thinking. It's remarkable to witness the next generation of industrial designers facilitating these types of open-ended projects and thriving in collaborations with partners from other areas."

Teams were challenged to apply the same design principles used in creating Disney’s famous theme parks and resorts to envision new outdoor spaces at their own universities that address the needs of students, faculty and visitors while providing a respite from the stresses of everyday life.

Mark Davidson, Jessica Klouda, Madeline Zupan and Erin Rice were honored for their project, “The Spirit of the Isle.” Guests would enter an island from behind a waterfall to experience an engaging amphitheatre, explore sweeping terraces or venture into a cave beneath the falls, which can double as an ice skating rink in the winter. For the final round of the competition, six teams—chosen from more than 300 entries—spent an all-expenses-paid week on the Imagineering campus in Glendale, CA, where they presented their project to Imagineering executives and learned more about the creative force behind Disney’s attractions and immersive experiences.

Rice calls it the "best experience of my life" adding that "it completely changed my perspective of the role industrial design has not only in the design world, but in everyday life. Studying industrial and graphic design provides technical and collaborative skills that are very evidently used by Imagineers in their creation of the parks and the magic that fills Disney. My team had the opportunity to meet, tour and present in front of some of the most talented minds in the world. I'm thankful for my Notre Dame education and for the Notre Dame design program for helping all of us grow as designers, people and leaders," says Rice.

The team's project was part of Shim's Collaborative Product Development course in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design and capstone for the collaborative innovation minor in the College of Arts and Letters. The class is open to students from any college or program at Notre Dame. 

“The skills that we learned are ones you often don’t learn anywhere else,” Rice says. “Professor Shim not only taught us valuable design methods and tools, but also helped us explore how the design industry intersects with other fields like business and engineering."