UCSD students compete in Disney’s annual Imagineering competition
by BLAKE BUNCH
Published - 02/11/17 - 12:16 PM | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
UCSD’s ‘Imagineering’ team. The team’s design, Pacific Trove, utilized La Jolla’s natural staples - from Torrey Pines to seclusive coves. (From left) Allison Masikip, Emeline Lee, Terence Tien, and Julia Soderstjerna. ©DISNEY PHOTO  GARY KRUEGER
UCSD’s ‘Imagineering’ team. The team’s design, Pacific Trove, utilized La Jolla’s natural staples - from Torrey Pines to seclusive coves. (From left) Allison Masikip, Emeline Lee, Terence Tien, and Julia Soderstjerna. ©DISNEY PHOTO GARY KRUEGER
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Four UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering seniors recently participated at the annual Walt Disney Imagineering Imaginations Design Competition. Although the team did not win, they were all thrilled to simply be recognized for their project – in which they, much like Theodore Geisel himself, drew inspiration from La Jolla’s natural wonders.

“This is an annual competition, and Disney comes up with their prompt around August or September,” said Terence Tien, one of the team members. “We then have about three to four months to complete our design project. Six finalists were ultimately chosen, and we were extremely lucky to have participated in this wonderful competition.”

This year’s competition prompt posed to the team stated: “Our parks, resorts, cruise ships and entertainment venues are designed to be places for families and friends to gather and create memories together. We challenge you to apply some of our same design principles to create a new outdoor space within your college or university that addresses current students, faculty and visitors needs while providing a respite from the stresses of college life.”

The team’s project, titled “Pacific Trove,” utilized Torrey Pine trees to form a series of satellite tree houses. Although the space won’t actually get built, it is quite the honor, for these students get to showcase their skills to some of the top designers in the country. This opportunity can further lead to internships and much more for the graduating seniors.

Disney’s Imagineering Competition has been running for the last 26 years, and for a few of the team members, it marked the achievement of a lifelong dream. The Pacific Trove team came to completion by chance during a study group on-campus.

“I have had the goal of entering the Disney Imaginations competition since I was little,” said Julia Soderstjerna. “I was fortunate enough to stumble upon these guys who were looking for a fourth teammate.”

While each team member possesses unique abilities and points of view, the collective design process provides them with some limitation/regulations on how they proceed.

“We begin with an initial PowerPoint and graphic illustration,” said team member Allison Masikip. “If you made it to finals, you get invited to campus and have 15 minutes to present. Our team is composed of two mechanical engineers and two structural engineers. This is how a majority of the teams are set up.”

As mentioned previously, the team discovered their inspiration for Pacific Trove through several field trips around La Jolla. From the idyllic bluffs and beaches of the area, to the strange, resilient trees that inhabit it, they aimed to create a space that was familiar, yet unique. After all, they are presenting this to Disney, so the more imagination, the better.

The team’s design encompasses three distinct areas—Torrey Pines Trail, Garibaldi Grotto, and New Moon Beach. Torrey Pines Trail is reminiscent of “Swiss Family Robinson,” though wholly original in its design and concept. Suspension bridges and zip lines connect structures, but for those who aren’t so adventurous, walking paths and open, lofty areas tend to suit their speed.

Garibaldi Grotto possesses soothing waterfalls in a “quiet, mystical space,” and also surrounds guests with vibrant aquariums. New Moon Beach takes a social approach to the design, and entails fire pits lining the walking path. The area is titled as such, because on every new moon, guests will experience a light show spectacle that would bring everyone together – a reminder to us all how our natural surroundings play a role in one’s everyday life.

Suffice it to say, these Jacobs School students certainly took into account all walks of life when designing Pacific Trove.

“This was such a terrific opportunity for us,” said Pacific Trove team member Emeline Lee. “The whole reason for Disney to put this on is to scout out talent, so it is a tough world to break into. I am very proud of what we have accomplished, however, even though we did not place.”

The students received an all-expenses-paid trip to the Imagineering competition, which is a victory in itself. The panel of judges selected used criteria they set for themselves when working for Disney. In a world where innovation is key, the renderings team Pacific Trove created would fit swimmingly in any Disneyland-owned theme park – or La Jolla itself.

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