The “happiest place on Earth” just got a little happier for Disneyland Resort fan and Fresno State’s Lyles College of Engineering electrical engineering major, Krista Miguel. Upon graduation on May 19 with a BS degree, the 22-year-old will head to Anaheim, CA to begin working as an Architecture & Facilities Engineering Intern. Her first day on the job is June 5.
“Working for the Disneyland Resort has always been my dream job,” she said. “Disneyland means magic that I can’t find anywhere else. The second I walk through that front gate, all problems are forgotten.”
Miguel has visited Disneyland in California nine times, Disneyland Paris once, and Disney World in Florida once.
“I’m especially looking forward to learning how Disneyland operates electrically,” she said. I’ll see Disneyland from an entirely new perspective – through the eyes of an engineer and not as a guest.”
Miguel will be part of the Disney Professional Internship Program for students and recent graduates. As a full-time intern, she will dedicate 40-hours-a-week, often splitting her time between Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park.
“I’ll be assisting the electrical project engineers in all phases such as drafting, documentation, electrical contractor coordination, collecting field data, light design and production work, construction administration, and more,” Miguel said.
She says she chose electrical engineering for the challenging work and secure job market.
“I wouldn’t say that I always wanted to be an electrical engineer, I thought that engineering would be too difficult, especially after having struggled through a calculus class in high school. My father works in the engineering industry. His background is in fire alarm systems, so that’s where my initial interest in engineering came from,” she explained.
Though she struggled through calculus, the Central High graduate’s passion was so great for science, technology and other areas of math that she decided to move forward with engineering. Fresno City College, engineering instructor, Nell Papavasiliou had Miguel in her Introduction to Electrical and Computer Engineering class at Lyles College.
“Even as a freshman, she had outstanding attention to detail, was naturally inquisitive, and learned for understanding rather than just to get a good grade,” Papavasiliou said. “Krista also sought out and took advantage a variety of experiences during her time at Fresno State.”
Miguel is a recipient of PG&E Better Together STEM scholarship and is a Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Power and Energy Society (PES) Scholar. She was heavily active in student organizations and served in several leadership roles in Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), Tau Beta Pi: Engineering Honors Society and Eta Kappa Nu: IEEE and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).
“I am a strong supporter of women in engineering,” Miguel said. “I truly believe that diversity incredibly important in the workplace, but diversity cannot be achieved without diverse people being hired.”
As an intern at various large companies like Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, City of Fresno’s Department of Public Utilities and General Electric, she says she’s seen an upward trend of women in engineering.
“But there’s still work to do. Part of my advocacy of women in engineering involved my position as the Fresno State section president of the Society of Women Engineers.”
SWE encourages young women in grades K-12 to pursue engineering and provides a support network to those females currently in engineering.
“In my current position, as an engineering instructor at Fresno City College, Krista and I have collaborated in elementary school engineering outreach.”
“Engineers design for humanity therefore diversity is critical to providing the best solutions. Not only gender diversity, but also ethnic and socioeconomic,” Papavasiliou explained. “In my opinion, groups that are traditionally underrepresented in engineering are just not being exposed or encouraged to go into the field. It is important that younger students are exposed to someone in the field who has a background similar to theirs, breaking down any internal feeling that this profession is not for them.”
Miguel’s dream is to one-day hold an executive leadership position.
“Engineering is very important to me, but leadership is something that I am passionate about,” she said. “I have enjoyed working with passionate teams of people that have a common goal and I feel that leading teams like this is what I am meant to do in my career.”
Dr. Gregory Kriehn, professor of electrical and computer engineering and Director of the Lyles College of Engineering Honors Program says Miguel has always had a balance between intellectual and technical skills as well as her emotional intelligence and thoughtfulness toward others.
“I am confident that Krista will carry these attributes far within in career, and that she will be a successful engineer as a result of focusing on becoming a well-rounded individual,” he explained.
Miguel says Dr. Kriehn recognized her potential before I she could recognize it in herself.
“She has been an inspiration to me as a teacher, and I will always think of her fondly as a former student. I look forward to hearing about her continued success at Disney!”
Papavasiliou says Krista has morphed from a student to a valued colleague through collaboration in elementary school engineering outreach.
“Krista has been a source of energy within the Electrical and Computer Engineering department and the entire Lyles College of Engineering. I am hopeful that other students have been inspired by her energy and dedication and will add their own energy to make their own unique impact.”