Matthew Nelson.
Matthew Nelson on stage at UC Berkeley College of Engineering's 2022 commencement ceremony.

UC Berkeley Grad Serves as Engineering Commencement Speaker, Becomes Disney Imagineer

Fall 2022 | Los Angeles

Matthew Nelson, a new Posse graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, was named the official 2022 commencement speaker for the University’s College of Engineering. With a dual degree in mechanical engineering and theater, Matthew will start his career as a Walt Disney Imagineer this fall.

An artist and engineer dedicated to improving his craft, Matthew is motivated to design lasting memories for children and adults alike.

“The marriage of science and art has unveiled a whole universe of storytelling that transforms and stretches the imagination.”

“Pursuing engineering and theater was not easy, and the last year was a blessing gift wrapped in trial,” Matthew says, reflecting on his Berkeley experience. “The marriage of science and art, however, has unveiled a whole universe of storytelling that transforms and stretches the imagination.”

With the help of some talented peers, Matthew recently finished his first animated short film, titled “Moonbound.” The short carries a message of “pursuing what we want, while learning to recognize the beauty of where we’re at,” he says.

Matthew has also received a Theatermakers Summer Fellowship, an honor awarded by the National Theater Institute. His fellowship included the opportunity to learn from artists and industry leaders at the Tony Award-winning Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut. The immersive experience has allowed him to create and collaborate with professional actors, directors and writers who share his dedication to the theatrical arts.

“Telling stories in a technical framework gives life and fluidity to engineering in a way nothing else can,” Matthew says. “Even independently, dramatic performance removes the box and challenges me to be a fluid engineer with unrestricted creativity. Whereas engineering cultivates the necessary focus and dedication to deliver charged performances that reach audiences beneath the surface. One cannot thrive without the other, which drives me to do both.”

“I am thankful to get to do what I love.”

Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development, commonly referred to as Imagineering, is the research and development arm of The Walt Disney Company, responsible for the creation, design and construction of Disney theme parks and attractions worldwide.

Becoming a Disney Imagineer has been a dream of Matthew’s since 2017, before his selection as a Posse Scholar and his academic journey at UC Berkeley. Now, the dream will become a reality.

“I am thankful to get to do what I love,” Matthew says.