Pixar Animation Studios Field Trip with Rudsdale High School, John O’Connell High School, and Sojourner Truth

On October 26, 2023, Pixar Animation Studios welcomed students from Rudsdale High School, John O’Connell High School, and Sojourner Truth, for an unforgettable IGNITE Program Field Trip to their studio in Emeryville, California. The event featured volunteers from PixWIT (Pixar Women in Technology) and showcased the vibrant intersection of technology and creativity within the world of animation. With an engaging lineup featuring a guided tour and a panel discussion, the day was a behind-the-scenes exploration of the Pixar universe.

The day kicked off with an introduction by tour guide Jeanette Marker, setting the tone for an immersive experience into animation. Students had the chance to explore the Pixar campus in small groups, learning about the history of the animation studio and gaining insights into the intricate design process behind the creation of animated features.

The real stars of the day were the IGNITE Panelists, including Pixar staff; Effects TD Jasmine Derry, Tools Engineer Denise Yang, Simulation Supervisor Fran Kalal, and Director of Engineering Laura Savidge. Jasmine shared her journey from a small town in Texas to creating effects for blockbuster films like Luca and Turning Red. Students heard firsthand how Denise journeyed through her career from mechanical engineering to computer graphics at Pixar. While Laura gave a glimpse into the technical marvels that power Pixar’s animations.

As always with IGNITE Panels, students had many questions, like how sewing skills translate into realistic digital clothing. The Panelists tackled these queries with humor and depth, revealing the unique intersections of art and technology that they experience in their roles.

Advice from the Panelists resonated deeply with the students, emphasizing that pursuing clubs and classes that reflect personal interests can lead to discovering a fulfilling career. These incredible speakers shared stories from the heart meant to inspire and encourage, tied together with the shared message that a profession fueled by passion is achievable.

This unique event designed to experience Pixar Animation Studios was not an average field trip but rather a behind-the-scenes look into the creativity and empowering careers that STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) has to offer at Pixar.

Thank you to Pixar for opening your doors and empowering the next generation of dreamers and doers! Special thanks to our amazing tour guides, Jeanette Marker, Morgan Miars, Athena Xenakis, Lara Pendleton, and Camryn Gray, who kicked off the day with their enthusiasm. Immense appreciation to the insightful Panelists, Jasmine Derry, Denise Yang, Fran Kalal, and Laura Savidge, who generously shared their stories and expertise. Thank you to the PixWIT organizers, Holly Lloyd, Morgan Miars, Grace Kumagai, Lindsey Voight, and Meghana Seshadri, for their dedication to making the event a seamless success. We also extend our thanks to Educators Juliana Mululu, Yvonne Salvadore, and Jessica Wan for their support.

After attending this event:


of students are interested in STEM

Take STEM Class


of students know more about STEM career choices and the benefits of working in a STEM field

Ask Teacher about Additional STEM Activities


of students feel more confident in pursuing STEM


of students gained perspective and feel more hopeful about the future

Here’s what the students thought of the event:

Today’s event inspired me to look into more STEM careers and see what inspires me. One of my big takeaways was the fact that I didn’t know any animated movies took so long to make and the process about it. For example, Elementals took about 8 years to make. That shocked me so much!!” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student

This experience inspired me to follow my dreams. People can do great things if they put their minds to it. It was inspiring to learn how they do the drawings and the process, and about the years it takes to make the movies.” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student

“I feel more inspired to pursue a career in art. I got more insight into working at an animation company. I also have more interest in Pixar. A thing I took away was the technical process of movie-making. I also felt good about the possibility of building an art career. I appreciate all the speakers and tour guides.” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student

“Today’s event made me feel inspired by seeing how interesting the work process was. I was able to learn about different jobs and opportunities in STEM.” – 10th Grade IGNITE Student

I’m more inspired to follow my dreams. It was comforting to learn that even if I don’t want to follow my career, I have many different options.” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student

This event inspired me to look into STEM, and I am more interested. The takeaways today were seeing everything and talking to the panelists.” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student

I really liked learning about the different jobs. I loved learning about the character and outfit designs. There are so many interesting roles at Pixar.” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student

“This event inspired me a lot. I really liked browsing the concept art and design. It helped me become more confident in the art I personally produce. This trip was amazing, and I also liked the screenplay as well; I found it enjoyable. If I could visit again, I probably would.” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student

Today inspired me to do what I like no matter what. It helped me realize that even if you’re not an artist, you can still find a passion for artwork. It also made me want to pursue film art. The big takeaway was even if you’re not good at something you should still try it out. Thank you to everyone who took the time out of their day to talk to us and show us the ropes of what they do.” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student

“This event helped me not be scared to change my career. It also showed me there are a lot of opportunities out there. I’d like to thank everyone for all the hard work.” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student

This event inspired me because it looks fun and really interesting. I would like to work here someday. I really liked how they have the 3D TV, and I also liked how the place is in nature.” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student

“Today’s event inspired me when everyone was talking about how the community is very close and how they got a passion for working at Pixar; it made me passionate about STEAM too. What I took away is that there are layers to making these films. I thank you guys for inviting me!” – 9th Grade IGNITE Student

“I learned so much! I want to be a part of STEAM and follow my dreams. I love this place!” – 9th Grade IGNITE Student

Today’s event inspired me to never give up on my dreams and that if you really like something you can do a career in it. It showed me that animation is really fun to do, and even if it’s a long process, it will still be fun. My big takeaway from this is to do the things I love and pursue a career in it if I can and to never give up on my dreams. I thank all the volunteers who shared their stories on how they started to work with Pixar.” – 9th Grade IGNITE Student

“Today’s event inspired me to follow my dreams and to never give up on them. My big takeaway is that this will help me conquer my dreams and make me more confident in it.” – 9th Grade IGNITE Student

Women can do inspiring things for society. The creation of each drawing. The process of each film. I thank each person who taught us a little more about Pixar Studios.” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student

I really liked how most of the panelists were women/nonbinary, and how everything about drawing/animation was shared. I just think it is so cool how they do what they really love.” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student

“Today’s event inspired me and was so nice. I learned a lot of things, like how they make movies. I like how they design things and are creative. Everyone was so nice, and I love everyone here. They take their time to show us what they do here. All the staff was nice and everything.” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student

About Pixar Animation Studios:

Pixar Animation Studios is an animated filmmaking company in Emeryville, CA. Pixar has made 26 feature films since Toy Story in 1995, and their most recent films include Turning Red, Lightyear, and Elemental.

About IGNITE Program Field Trip Events:

IGNITE Field Trips offer a memorable, behind-the-scenes look at STEM in action and the wide range of career opportunities at the host company. Company employees interact directly with the students through an office tour, hands-on STEM activities, and IGNITE Panel and Q&A discussion.

About IGNITE Worldwide:

IGNITE Worldwide is a 501(c)3 nonprofit STEM education organization that aims to change gender and racial equity in STEM permanently and systematically. We work directly with teachers during the school day to provide programming that promotes gender equity and representation in STEM academics and careers. Through our award-winning program, IGNITE provides engaging, hands-on events that connect students with STEM professionals from industry leaders from around the world. Learn more at www.igniteworldwide.org.

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