Purdue Indy spotlights student in themed entertainment design, a new major for the university

Carys George, a Purdue themed entertainment design student in Indianapolis, conducts a case study at The Children’s Museum in Indianapolis. (Purdue University photo/The Persistent Pursuit)

Julie Beckwith at The Persistent Pursuit recently profiled Carys George, a student in themed entertainment design who will continue her education at the newly-formed Purdue in Indianapolis campus.

Themed entertainment design is a major that was recently incorporated into Purdue Polytechnic’s curriculum, as the Polytechnic (Purdue's technology college) has carried it forward from IUPUI's prior degree program. No other Purdue Polytechnic site, in West Lafayette or the 10 other locations around Indiana, has ever offered themed entertainment design before.

The major’s focus on real-world industry connection and hands-on applications of technology mean that it slots into Purdue Polytechnic’s curriculum with ease. “My professors say that you can’t create exhibits without first experiencing them yourself,” George said.

The exhibits in question range from theme park attractions to displays installed in places like the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, one of the city’s biggest destinations that served a whopping 1 million visitors in 2022. The major is designed to encompass a breadth of options. As the degree information for themed entertainment design states:

“What if you could create for the likes of Walt Disney Imagineering, Universal Studios Creative, the Smithsonian, or another themed destination such as a theme park, zoo, aquarium, trade show or museum? … As you move along your learning journey you will be guided by our dedicated faculty and our wealth of industry connections (think of Disney, Sea World, Universal Studios, the Childrens Museum of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Zoom and more).”

The Children’s Museum in Indianapolis is one of many venues where George has conducted case studies. (Purdue University photo/The Persistent Pursuit)

George, a rising junior, has previously used her major’s adaptable curriculum as an opportunity to secure a six-month internship at Ohio’s Cedar Point—one of the most historically significant theme parks in the world. “Because the themed entertainment design program is asynchronous, I was able to do all of my classwork from Ohio while still working 30 to 40 hours a week,” she said.

"I love the combination of technology with leadership, operations and creativity. It all comes together in themed entertainment." (Purdue University photo/The Persistent Pursuit)

George expressed that she is also attracted to the management side of the industry. Many of her classes feature project management tools like Trello and Monday.com; she also explores the design side, which means using Figma, Maya 3D animation software, Adobe’s creative suite and SketchUp 3D modeling software.

“We learn about things like taking a building and turning it into a schematic so that we can adjust spaces and change the flow of people,” George said. “We are learning how to be visual and spatial storytellers, and design obviously plays a big role in that.”

Read the full story at The Persistent Pursuit to get a full sense of the options available to students in themed entertainment design, as well as to hear about George’s escapades around Indianapolis, her times spent connecting with industry professionals and her next steps as she moves on to a summer internship with Tennessee’s Dollywood.

Additional information