Carnegie Mellon University
September 25, 2013

CEE Alum Finds Sustainable Solutions for the Happiest Place on Earth

CEE Alum Finds Sustainable Solutions for the Happiest Place on Earth
Environmental engineering has more ties to Snow White than you might think. CEE alumnus Tim C. Lee, who earned his MS in Environmental Engineering from CMU in 2009, is now working for Disney to reduce the company’s environmental impact around the world. In 2012, Lee joined The Walt Disney Company’s Corporate Citizenship, Environmental Assessments team in Los Angeles, California.

As part of the Environmental Assessments team, Lee evaluates the environmental impact of sustainable designs for various Disney projects – for instance, he has assessed energy designs for commercial buildings, resorts, and attractions. He also manages the company’s greenhouse gas and water inventory and reports its climate change impact to organizations such as the Carbon Disclosure Project.

Even before joining Disney, Lee was aware of the company’s long history of environmental stewardship. “Disney has a strong connection with children and nature, so when it encourages children to be environmentally conscious, this perpetuates beyond their Disney experience,” he said. “It’s a fairly unique position that not many companies have, so the results of Disney’s environmental efforts reach beyond the company; they reach the community, families, and so forth.”

Lee, whose success at Disney depends on effective collaboration with designers, researchers, and other engineers, enjoys the interdisciplinary nature of his job. “My background is in engineering, but I’m on the corporate side of the company, and the most exciting part is bridging that gap,” he said. “There’s an opportunity for both sides to work together by translating technical concepts in a way to create value on the corporate side.”

During his time at CMU, Lee made the most of the flexibility of the CEE curriculum by taking coursework in engineering, public policy, materials science, and architecture. “Scott Matthews’ courses about the intersection of public policy and engineering are what prepared me the most for this job,” he said. “I needed to know the engineering and I needed to know the public policy side of things, and having him as a professor contributed to my success here at Disney.” 

So has Lee run into Mickey at work yet? “Not exactly,” he said, chuckling. “But I do see a lot of figurines sitting on desks. Disney’s subsidiaries include Marvel Entertainment, Pixar Animation Studios, Lucasfilm, and ESPN, so there’s something for everyone.”