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New graduate uses engineering education for Disney internship

Published November 2016

Recent NDSU graduate Josh Swanson has his dream internship as an imagineer for Walt Disney Imagineering. 

An imagineer is a job created by the late Walt Disney as he was developing the Disneyland theme park that opened in 1955. In essence, an imagineer is a creative designer, who combines imagination and engineering.

That’s exactly what Swanson, an electrical engineering major who graduated earlier this year, has wanted to be since he was a kid. “Most fifth-graders like rides and experiences because they're fun, but I always liked and appreciated Disney for more than that,” he said. “I loved how immersed you felt in the story and the magic, like you were truly a part of it. So I made it my life goal to become an imagineer and help create the magic that people will enjoy for generations to come.”

Walt Disney Imagineering is headquartered in Glendale, California, and its talented personnel design everything from theme parks to hotels to cruise ships.

Swanson, who grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, works as a ride controls software engineer. He helps design and build prototypes for future attractions.

“NDSU helped prepare me for this opportunity in a huge way. It provided an excellent base of knowledge which I continue to use and build on. Problem solving, electronics knowledge and thinking outside of the box are some of the skills I learned at NDSU and use every day at Imagineering,” Swanson said.

A student leadership program helped him grow as a person and future professional. “I was taught to be confident in what I do; how to gain, foster and preserve meaningful lasting relationships; and how to absolutely crush any challenge that gets in my way. I would not be where I am without them.”

People at NDSU are not surprised by Swanson’s success so early in his career. “From the first day I met with him, Josh was dialed in to working for Disney Imagineering,” said Joel Hanson, Student Support Center director for the College of Engineering. “I am so proud of him in that he identified a goal and stuck with it.”

Swanson hopes to be hired full-time as an imagineer when his internship ends.

“As I continue to create magic at Imagineering, each day presents new challenges. And every challenge conquered has the potential to bring lots of smiles to the faces of future park guests,” he said. “If that’s what I see in a few years, I’ll know I’ve done my job well.”

“I absolutely love what I do,” Swanson continued. “I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity to be able to live my dream and work as part of an amazing team.” 

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Last Updated: Friday, November 18, 2016 11:50:50 AM
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