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School of Engineering and Applied Science

Ali Dunn

Costuming Support Manager
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

What did Ali Dunn '12 do when she graduated with a BS in industrial engineering?

She went to Disney World.

Today, Ali is a costuming support manager at Disney in Orlando, working at what she calls "the most magical place on earth."

"Costuming support managers are basically in-house industrial engineers for costuming at Disney," she said. "Since we are an entertainment company, we consider all uniforms to be 'costumes' so it involves data analysis for literally millions of garments."

Ali Dunn

Ali Dunn '12

"Currently, I am working on some data analysis projects to increase financial savings related to sourcing and inventory of garments," she said "I am on a bi-coastal team, so I am responsible for data at Walt Disney World in Florida and the Disneyland Resort in California."

Ali credits Hofstra for opening her eyes to the variety of career opportunities available to industrial engineers. In addition to mastering technical engineering skills, she learned the importance of soft skills such as communication and leadership.

"Through a lot of my industrial engineering classes, I learned about translating the more technical aspects of the work into something that is understandable to the client," she said "Especially in classes like Project Management, and even Engineering Economics, I learned how to present data in a meaningful way, rather than just on the data itself."

She added, "I do a lot of work for clients who are not very technical, so they don't necessarily understand (or need to understand) the ins and outs of a time study or statistical analysis. They just need to understand the recommendation being given."

Ali also credits Dr. Richard Puerzer, chair of the engineering department, for encouraging her to pursue a career at Disney rather than taking a traditional career path.

"He was the first person who didn't look at me like I was crazy when I said I wanted to be an industrial engineer at Disney," she said. "Dr. Puerzer helped me pursue my goals, he sponsored me when I wanted to do internships with Disney, and even helped me tailor my courses to fit into my schedule."

Ali was accepted to the Disney College Program in fall 2010. She worked in Disney's Animal Kingdom as a safari driver. During that time, she took some courses at Disney, including an organizational leadership class that explored different leadership styles. She also had a chance to network with many Disney engineers.

The experience confirmed for Ali that Disney was where she belonged.

Ali's career at Disney has also afforded her the opportunity to travel. In 2016, she was selected to be part of the Shanghai Disneyland taskforce and worked in China for nine months preparing the costuming and entertainment spaces for the park's grand opening.

"I think industrial engineering is definitely taking off – and not just in engineering specific jobs," she said. "Efficiency experts are needed in all sorts of fields – and I think it's trending to have industrial engineers in many different kinds of organizations."