Disney finalists

Zaid Karajeh, Dondel Briones, Amanda Sharpe and Simone Getty (courtesy of Zaid Karajeh).

Pat Harris, SJSU, 408-924-1748
Frank Reifsnyder, Walt Disney Imagineering, 818-544-2142
Tim Choy, Peter Goldman, Davidson & Choy Publicity, 323-954-7510

San Jose, CA–A San Jose State student team has been named one of six finalists in Walt Disney Imagineering’s 24th Imaginations competition.

From the art to the engineering, it was all amazing work,” said Zaid Karajeh, ’16 Aerospace Engineering.

Contestants were asked to imagine a Disney transportation experience, including station/stops and vehicle designs that reflect the diversity of the city, and are accessible, energy-friendly, and fun.


In the beginning, Karajeh had one teammate: Dondel Briones, ’16 Aerospace Engineering. But they soon realized “we would need someone to bring our concepts to life,” Karajeh said.

Amanda Sharpe, ’15 Animation and Illustration, added an artist’s touch, and brought along Simone Getty, ’16 Mechanical Engineering, who applied her expertise.

The SJSU team proposed Aether, a breathtaking journey lifting passengers above Toronto to transport them to commuter and tourist destinations.

While onboard, guests are entertained by 3-D projected artificial intelligence tour-guides, smart glass projections, interactive seat-backs, and automated photo stops, all of which provide for a unique experience immersed in the imaginative realm known as steampunk.

“The project could not have been possible without those three,” Karajeh said. “Their hard work and dedication is what made Aether standout to Disney.”

Dream internship

Walt Disney Imagineering is the design and development arm of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. With Imaginations, the company seeks out and nurtures the next generation of diverse Imagineers.

The other finalists are from Art Center College of Design, Drexel University, Ringling College of Art + Design, Texas Tech University, and University of Nevada, Reno.

All will receive a five-day, all-expense-paid trip to Glendale, Calif., where they will present their project to Imagineering executives and take part in an awards ceremony on Jan. 31.

The top three teams will be awarded cash prizes, with the first place team receiving $3,000. An additional $1,000 grant will be awarded to the first place team, to be equally divided among its sponsoring universities and/or organizations.

Finalists will also have an opportunity to meet and network with Imagineers, go behind the scenes where Disney magic is created, and interview for paid internships during their visit.

“Regardless of the outcome, I hope my teammates and I get the internships!” Karajeh said.

About San Jose State

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,740 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

About Imaginations 

The projects and concepts presented are not necessarily intended to be built by Disney – they are a way for the entrants to demonstrate their skills and creative abilities. In consideration for the opportunities provided by Imagineering, submissions become the sole property of Walt Disney Imagineering and Imagineering retains all rights to use and/or display the submissions and the materials contained in them.