By Jenna Tsakas, Communications & Experience Manager, DPEP Technology & Digital
Conservation and environmental stewardship have been a long-standing part of Disney’s culture, and this Earth Day, I want to spotlight two of Technology & Digital’s professional interns: Ari and Morgan! These two have spent their internships focused on creating a more sustainable future through green technology. They conducted introductory research on Technology & Digital’s environmental footprint, interviewed leaders across the company, and compared best practices with outside companies.
In honor of Earth Day, I interviewed Ari and Morgan! Read below to see what they learned through this unique internship experience.
Tell us about your background! What prepared you to research green technology at Disney?
Ari: I graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas in 2019 with a degree in environmental studies and geosciences. While there, I was able to conduct three semesters of independent research. After graduating, I took a job at a municipal water testing facility, which allowed me to conduct strict scientific research. These experiences prepared me for this internship with Technology & Digital because I was able to use a very fine-tuned analytical eye when examining data, while also having the capacity to take a step back and see the larger picture with all its moving parts.
Morgan: I also went to Trinity University and graduated with a degree in environmental studies. After graduating in 2020, I made the decision to pursue a Master of Science in Aquatic Environmental Science from Florida State University. I’ve been able to put the knowledge I obtained in both my undergraduate and graduate programs to practical use with this research project. Furthermore, my ability to now operate at a high scientific level when conversing with experts in the environmental technology sector has been immensely useful to the success of this project.
What is green technology? What did your project focus on?
Morgan: Green technology is an umbrella term for new inventions, research and technology designed with sustainability in mind. It could be anything from switching to paperless bills to installing solar-powered systems in homes and buildings.
Throughout our internship, we focused primarily on how emerging tech, both physical and digital, could help our business become even more sustainable. We also researched how technology and digital innovations can help the communities where our business operates.
How did you get started?
Ari: Initially, our goal was to gather all the environmental data the Technology & Digital organization had, but we quickly realized there was no set of coalesced data for us to pull from. We had to build it! Because of this, our discovery phase ended up being a lot longer than anticipated, but we took it as an amazing opportunity to speak with people from across the company. After many months of researching and organizing, we felt good about the data and moved on to analyzing and making a list of recommendations for next steps.
What have you learned during your internship?
Ari: I’ve learned that you can make a difference at any level – even as an intern – so long as you stay consistent and don’t give up! Change often takes time.
How will the data you collected be used moving forward?
Morgan: We hope the research we conducted and the metrics we collected have laid a solid foundation for integrating sustainable technological practices into Technology & Digital’s future projects and products. We hope that our project will serve as a reminder that even in technology, conservation and sustainability are the key to healing our magical planet!
Do you have any tips for how cast members can use technology to create a more sustainable environment?
Ari: There is no one-size-fits-all solution to sustainability, but incorporating sustainable technological practices into your work doesn’t have to be difficult! A great first step is regularly including sustainability as one of your project considerations alongside more mainstream considerations like finances.
For example, consider the life expectancy of a piece of equipment and consider how it will likely be disposed of, or how the product will be hosted (server-based or cloud-based) as they have different environmental impacts.
Morgan: Beyond that, we’d advise that you talk to people in the field about anything you want to learn more about. We’ve found that people who work in the sustainability field are incredibly passionate about their work and are usually more than happy to share their knowledge with others.
I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about Ari and Morgan, and the work they focused on throughout their professional internships! It’s cast members like these two who are helping everyone at Disney get into the green space, regardless of their background.