A Thrill Ride for Disney's Darrell Jodoin
For nearly a quarter century, engineer Darrell F. Jodoin has worked behind the scenes to help make Disney Parks and Resorts the most magical place on Earth.
Jodoin first joined Disney in 1990 as an "imagineer" to develop ride systems. Today, he leads the design and engineering team, overseeing a "cast" of more than 90 technical professionals in various engineering and administrative roles to support attractions at Disneyland Park and Disney's California Adventure Park. One of his most memorable projects was leading the team that designed and installed a rebuilt ride system for Space Mountain — the spacethemed, roller-coaster thrill ride — for Disneyland's 50th anniversary in 2005.
"I still very much enjoy the wide variety of technical challenges and helping my cast members succeed," he explains.
Jodoin '85 (B.S. engineering-mechanical engineering), who started his career at a small engineering firm, credits his undergraduate education in the College of Engineering and Computer Science for preparing him for the world of engineering.
"If I owe much in this life, it's to this place. Cal State Fullerton's engineering program provided me with a balance of theoretical studies in math, physics and engineering, coupled with opportunities to apply that knowledge in the various labs and participate in programs sponsored by the student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers," he states.
Jodoin was honored as the chapter's 1985 Student of the Year.
He chose Cal State Fullerton because of its accredited engineering degree programs, the campus was close to his home in La Mirada — where he still resides — and because his sister was a student. "She encouraged me to visit the campus, where I found it would meet my needs," says Jodoin, who worked to put himself through college.
As a proud Titan, he tirelessly gives back by mentoring student engineers and serving on the ECS College Leadership Council and Mechanical Engineering Industry Advisory Board. Jodoin also participates in the college's Professor for a Day event, supports the women in engineering program and has been instrumental in securing Disneyland Resort grant funding for student senior design projects.
"Aside from developing our next generation of problemsolvers that we so desperately need to maintain our edge on innovation, I remember the desire to better understand what I could expect after graduation, but not having many resources to address those concerns," he explains of his interest in mentoring students.
The reward of encouraging future engineers is seeing them develop and succeed in their projects, studies and careers. "Students need our help to succeed in an increasingly competitive world. I believe alumni involvement just might be a tipping point for many students," he adds. "I think it's important to mentor all Cal State Fullerton engineering students to promote the students and the program. To have an impact on the diversity of the engineering community, we also must be mindful of the underrepresented, if we are to make a change."