Kim Wheeler

Kim Wheeler

Mechanical Engineer
The Walt Disney Company
Windermere, FL, United States
Kim Wheeler
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My name is Kim and I've been working for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for about 5 years now. I started as an intern in Engineering Services Resorts, where I learned a lot about how maintenance works on large scale resort hotels. For the last 4 years I've been working as an Engineer for the Design & Engineering department, which supports all of the attractions, entertainment infrastructures, parades, transportation, and just about anything you can imagine here at Walt Disney World. One of my biggest projects has been working on the opening of the brand new Festival Of Fantasy Parade, which features lots of new exciting floats and technological advances. I recently started a position within the Ride Engineering team, where I work on updating attractions such as the Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road, and the Kilimanjaro Safari over at Animal Kingdom. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. I am currently working on my Master's Degree in Industrial Engineering/Engineering Management from the University of Florida.
Bachelor of Science, Northeastern University Master of Science, University of Florida
  • I am willing to be interviewed by interested students via email.
Answers by Miss Kim Wheeler

Hi Alyssa,

Thank you for your questions!  You seem like you are already on the right path by setting a goal and reaching for it!  I would recommend getting as much hands on experience as you can while you are in High School and in College.  Try the FIRST robotics program or local SWE events that do design and building competitions. Try to figure out which type of engineer you would like to be. Mechanical? Industrial? Electrical? there are so many types out there and once you figure out which one you love the most, try to pursue activities that help develop those skills.

Disney does have programs for college students such as the College Program and the Professional Internship program. You can find them here:  You can browse this website to learn what these programs are and what they are for.  You can also browse the Disney Careers website to see what type of jobs and qualifications we look for in the jobs you are interested in.  That way you can set yourself up for success!

In the future, the best engineers are those who continue to ask questions.  As Walt Disney said "We keep moving forward because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths".  Ask as many questions as you can, shadow people and learn about what they do, and absorb everything they have to say. 

Good luck!

Greetings! I'm afraid that I'm a bit of an outlier, but I'd be very appreciative if you could answer some questions for an older learner :) I am a 30 year old with a Bachelor's degree in Graphic Design. I've currently begun career exploration with the assistance of a career counselor and one of the areas she suggested that I delve into was Engineering. I had never even considered it before as I figured my artistic brain couldn't handle difficult math or science, but I've been completely devouring YouTube videos that discuss, especially those that talk about amusement parks and, more specifically, Imagineers. Which I find amusing since when I was a young girl of 7 or 8, Imagineering was what I wanted to do with my life - unfortunately I was somehow derailed.In short, I had no idea that engineering was such a creative field! However, I'm still left feeling doubtful that, at my age, my brain will be elastic enough to retain mathematics and physics. I'm reluctant to give up in the idea however, as I know that the field offers the variety, the problem solving, and the hands-on creativity that I have been seeking. I suppose my question is, as I am most keenly interested in working for amusement parks audiences, do you think I have a chance at my age to obtain a position within the entertainment industry - if I were to return to school and supplement my education with engineering requirements? Also, in your opinion, would a person who has not had much aptitude with sciences and mathematics (and not for lack of interest) in the past be able to succeed at an engineering program? I'm most interested in using my sculpting abilities but also my spatial design skills to create immersive environments for audiences, if that helps you respond. Thank you in advance for your time!

Hi Jess!

Nice to hear from you.  Its never too late to start something that you are passionate about, I think. We have a program here at Disney for students pursuing degrees in engineering and in my opinion,with your unique background with graphic design that would make you a very viable candidate! 

Have you ever considered industrial design? That is probably the most creative type of engineering that combines visualization with engineering concepts. It is a great stepping stone for someone like you.

To answer your last question, I think if you are passionate enough to want to learn, then you can succeed in an engineering program. I'm the first to admit I'm not the best with certain concepts, but its being able to search for the right data and use the right application when you're in industry.

Having said that, the majority of our Imagineers are in fact creative people, like graphic designers and have theater and props backgrounds, whereas only a small group actually have engineering degrees.

I hope this helps!


Hi Jess!

Thanks for the question. To add on to what Kate said, I think mechanical engineering may be a better fit for you, especially when you discuss understanding how things work, usually that is more geared towards a mechanically-minded person.

Keep in mind that Mechanical and Electrical engineering majors usually offer a minor in the other. For example, I had a bunch of friends that minored in electrical engineering or controls as they had an interest in that. And like Kate said, engineering is a problem solving degree so you can have opportunities in many fields. I have many friends who have degrees in mechanical but actually spend the majority of their time doing electrical engineering.

One thing I would recommend is to try to apply for an internship this upcoming summer in either of the fields so that you can get a better idea of what engineers in that field do.

Oh and don't worry, I wasn't very good at coding either. :)

Hi Jaleen!

If you are interested in working for Disney, there are a few programs you can apply to. If you have a summer or semester free, I would highly recommend the College Program.  A link to the site can be found here:  That is the best "first step" into the company. 

Secondly, when you are further along in your career, we have what is called the "Professional Internship" program.  This requires a minimum 3.0 GPA, and usually we look for juniors/seniors and graduate level students.  That is how I got started, I was an intern for a full year before I became an engineer.  Their website is here:

I think what helped me land my internship was that I had already done a few internships in other companies and had some design experience, plus I had a good GPA with lots of diverse activities. 

There are many other companies within the entertainment and theater industry that are just as fun and exciting too.  TEA, or Themed Entertainment Association is a good place to look for different companies that specialize in entertainment, theming design, roller coasters, you name it.

I hope this helps.


Hi Keelin!

Happy New Year! 

I would say the best way to get ready to be an engineer is to learn as much as you can! Play with legos, learn how cars work, ask lots and lots of questions. The best way an engineer learns is by experiencing it, so try to get as hands on as much as possible. There are lots of toys and products out there that teach problem solving skills and how to build stuff, and the best kind of experience is hands on. Also if you have the opportunity to participate in First Lego League, I highly recommend the program. You can find the website at 

As always let me know if I can be more help!


Hi Dena,

Being an engineer at Disney can mean a lot of different things. We work on projects and rides that span across our property, both old and new. 

Typically we get work requests from our partners out in the park, who need to come up with solutions for issues they are having with a specific ride, parade float or other system. This could be due to the fact that the techonology behind the ride is very old (The park is over 40 years old), or standards or processes have changed. We then work with these partners, along with input from maintenance and facilities engineering to deliver solutions.  Right now I am working on projects for about 5 different rides.  There is a lot of design work but there is also a lot of installation work. In December, Haunted Mansion will be closed for a refurbishment and I will be the Lead Engineer on the project. That means I will be out in the field every day with my hard hat on, working with the construction workers on the ride.  It is a great balance of field and computer work.

The other side of the job deals with installing new rides.  The creative brainstorming that you refer to happens at a very high level, and we as the engineers dont usually see it until the idea is flushed out at a much higher level. Typically the "Imagineers" are the creative people behind the rides, and we the engineering departmnet bring the ride to life. I had the unique opportunity to do this for the Festival of Fantasy Parade at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. We were given artist sketches and renderings of what they visioned, and we had to provide concept developments and work with vendors to bring the floats to life. 

Having artistic talent is definitely a plus for engineers here, but is not a requirement. 

If you have any other questions don't hesitate to ask!


Hi Dena,

Having a strong background in the engineering fundamentals will help you in a career in the entertainment industry, and having an additional art background will never hurt. Working at Disney I know some engineers with fine arts minors and lots of artistic skills, but it is certainly not a requirement. Most people have focused on their engineering and business degrees. Typically as engineers our focus is guest safety and overall functionality of a ride, and we leave the creative part to the visionary folks or the artists.

Some schools have specific programs in "entertainment technology" which focus on entertainment themed projects that spread accross a variety of disciplines within engineering. For example Carnegie Mellon has a fantastic program in this. 

The key to being an engineer in the entertainment industry is having a very wide background and knowing a lot about a bunch of different types of systems.  One saying we have here is "be profficent and sufficent". This means we should be profficient in our field of choice (I am mechanical, for example), and we should have a sufficient background in other forms of engineering as well. I know a lot about electrical systems, controls and structural engineering.

Hi Chavi!

I would be the first to admit that I am not the best at math, either. But I do understand the fundamentals that I can build off of and that eventually helped me earn my degree.  I wouldnt focus too much on what your grades are, but instead focus on your development of concepts and learning.  If you have all the basics down, the rest will come easier. What is most important is the passion, and it sounds like you really like chemistry. 

Having great communication skills is really important for engineers, and a great asset to have. I suggest looking at the different jobs that the chemical engineer women have on this site to see what different career paths they have.  Chemical engineers can do anything from pharmaceuticals  to clean energy, fire protection and many more. 

As far as the exams it would depend on your country, the University and what field you want to get into.