Engineering Student Takes Walt Disney!

Engineering Student Takes Walt Disney

Meet Kristen Corlay Sanmiguel, a student of Engineering here at Johns Hopkins University. Kristen recently conducted research on the resilience of earthquakes in Mexico City, specifically one in 2017. Kristen’s project was inspired by a paper she wrote in 2021. She wrote about the land types and how earthquakes affect some areas more than others based on the land type. She also wrote about how economic stability is related to increased earthquake risk. This data research led her to winning the data analytics competition and had her project featured at the Data analytics conference at Walt Disney. She received a full expense paid trip to the  conference and Disney. 

Disney Experience Recap: 

“It was an incredible experience, such a dream. It was full of surprises, the first day I arrived there was a dinner and they surprised us with mickey swag” as stated by Kristen. There are 4 award winners, she was the only undergrad winner, two masters, and one PhD student. The second day was a fun day, they went to the magic kingdom and throughout the experience she had a lot of mentorship. She had a primary mentor and secondary mentor from DDSI . The Walt Disney company is in charge of anything related to data science at Walt disney. The mentors were there through each and every step, not only at the conference. All of the lunches and dinners were with Disney executives. Including the vice president of Walt Disney. “It was really cool to be these individuals in informal settings, it was great practice for the professional world”, as stated by Kristen. They were very nice and honest about their career trajectory and how they actually got there. The conference itself was amazing, it was focused on data and science but still had its hints of disney flare, almost like a parade but at a science conference. “It was a great learning experience and she learned more about leadership through a few breakout sessions and how Disney uses machine learning and algorithms for Disney and Disney plus. Her favorite keynote was by Hannah Fry and she talked a lot about data and so many case studies that show how data is truly interesting and inspiring. She was able to actually talk to her and other keynote speakers. Kristen was able to present her posters and receive her award as well.  Throughout the experience she learned to truly market herself and she learned just how valuable she would be to any corporation.

Takeaways From This Experience and Advice:

Kristen’s advice is to GO FOR IT, go for every opportunity, don’t allow doubt to stop you from achieving your dreams. Rather, elaborate more and work on it. She turned in the application on May 15th, and at that time she was going through a tough time with projects, finals, and other personal problems and yet she still applied. It was a very challenging semester but she didn’t allow it to stop her from applying at all. It may not always be easy but still push yourself and apply. You never know where it will lead you. The reality is that STEM is hard, and it’s okay to acknowledge that. When she applied, she felt she wasn’t doing her best academically but she didn’t let that stop her from applying. Kristen ended up in a room where she was the youngest award winner and she deserved to be there. The committee was made up of 20 people and they saw her transcripts, they saw her project, they saw everything and they knew she didn’t have straight A’s. No one there cared about her grades, they cared more about her project and her character. You don’t have to be perfect to get awards and be successful, that is the true reality. Networking is more valuable than the difference between the A and the B. It is important to know that your academic merit isn’t the end all be all, do your best and invest in your passions, you never know what rooms it will take you into. 

What Kristen Would Do Differently?

Kristen wouldn’t do anything differently because she didn’t know what to expect coming in and it was honestly an amazing experience overall. Everything was scheduled to the minute. She would have maybe slept more but the adrenaline was pumping.

Future Plans For Kristen?

Since the semester is starting and it’s junior year. Kristen would like to continue working on her app Cabilde, which was featured last year in JHU Fastforward Fuel, and now there are so many changes happening on the backend, including administrative changes. Cabilde is a webapp they are trying to develop for her hometown (Nuevo Leon) in Mexico to make the congress data more accessible to citizens. Sometimes the way data is structured it is not available to people there. The goal is to make their one pager ( Overall, she would like to think more widely about her options and be open to any changes that may come professionally, 

Never forget to go for every opportunity, don’t allow doubt to stop you from achieving your dreams!

Kristen Corlay Sanmiguel
By Maureen Onyebuchukwu
Maureen Onyebuchukwu