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USNA takes 1st Place in Walt Disney Imaginations Design Competition

  POSTED ON: Thursday, January 23, 2020 12:16 PM by MC2 Dana Legg

(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) A team of four midshipmen designed their way into 1st place at the 29th Imaginations Design Competition, hosted by Walt Disney’s Imagineers. 

Team USNA, all California natives, was represented by Midshipman 1st Class Eli Vernon of Riverbank, Midshipman 1st Class Allison Annick of Pasadena, Midshipman 1st Class Kathryn Fung of Folsom, and Midshipman 2nd Class Franchette Allarey of Fairfield, beat out more than 300 teams around the country to make it to the final round.

Walt Disney Imagineering is the creative force that dreams up and designs all Disney theme parks, resorts, attractions, cruise ships and other family entertainment experiences worldwide, along with overseeing the creative aspects of Disney’s games, merchandise and publishing businesses. The Imaginations competition seeks out the next generation of diverse Imagineers from universities around the country.

“Walt Disney Imaginations emphasized to me that there is space for creativity in any work environment,” said Allarey. “It was a real-world example of how an organization is more creative and successful when it values diversity across disciplines and demographics. It rewarded risk taking and pursuit of new avenues.”                           

Each year, student teams are challenged with a design prompt, and the final six teams receive an all-expense paid trip to Walt Disney Imagineering in Anaheim, California, where they present their concepts to judges for final review.

This year’s prompt challenged the teams to design a concept for an installation at the team’s campus or in their city; the installation should serve as an inspiration to the public, honor the past, or offer a vision of the future, while considering the location and respecting and integrating local traditions and geography.

The Naval Academy team’s concept is titled “Starboard Port” and is a design for a park raised off the coast of Annapolis which incorporates a wooden dock interspersed with LED lights that leads guests to a constellation of marble pavilions standing in the Severn River. Each pavilion features interactive exhibits dedicated to those who live their lives upon, below, and above the sea; where visitors can take the helm of an age-of-sail ship, pilot the first nuclear submarine, or take a seat in a space shuttle.

“In a place rich with naval history, Annapolis traditions, and east coast geography, nothing was off limits,” said Vernon, the team lead. “Once we had the title, everything came together, and our team’s bond made the whole process go smoothly.”

This concept brought the Naval Academy team to the final round, where they secured first place above five other collegiate teams: Texas A&M University, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Laguna College of Art and Design, and two teams from Savannah College of Art and Design.

According to Walt Disney Imaginations, the USNA team worked well together and were both personable and professional while their passion showed through clearly.

The competition required the participating teams to organize ideas, flex creative muscles, and effectively plan and execute their concept design. Each team created a visual display, as well as a digital presentation, which detailed the specifics of the project. The midshipmen hand-painted the 3D-printed models of their marble pavilions, and created a poster with artwork showing their interactive exhibits.

“With limited time and resources, we were able to not only represent the Academy on an international stage, but show thought processes and aptitudes equivalent to some of the most creative colleges in the country.” said Vernon.