Millions of people have enjoyed rides at places like Disney Parks, Universal Studios, and Sea World. While we scream and laugh at the thrills, most of us probably don’t consider the mechanical systems and safety modules making sure the adventure goes smoothly. Thankfully Mike Ondayko does. Mike is currently our manager for Product Engineering & Tooling at Detroit Manufacturing Systems, but before he came to fill this role at DMS, he worked alongside Imagineers to design and implement safety systems including the seat modules used on the Harry Potter ride. He also implemented an Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) line for Disneyland Paris’ Ratatouille ride as well as the Mystic Manner ride in Hong Kong. The Ratatouille and Mystic Manner rides are fully automated just like our new AGV line which aids our assembly process!
Working alongside Imagineers to create thrilling experiences for theme park visitors is just one notch in the belt of an impressive 30-year career that allowed Mike to see the world. Born and raised in the Detroit suburb of Livonia, Mike has a diverse work history where his skills have been applied in the agriculture industry for companies like John Deere, New Holland, and Case IH. But It all started with tooling and product design for the automotive industry. At DMS, he has blended these two disciplines into a fulfilling career for the last five years.
Mike’s career path became crystal clear in an industrial shop class he took in middle school. It was the first time he created orthographic drawings that displayed the top, side, and front view of any object. Mike has been hooked on engineering ever since. After graduating from high school, Mike enrolled in Lawrence Institute of Technology and studied engineering for four years. During school, he worked as an engineer full-time at a mold shop. Work demands prevented him from getting his degree, but his experience at the mold shop taught him about tool design. From there, he became a product designer at another company. His career and experiences continued to evolve and span the globe until he eventually returned home to Detroit and was recruited into DMS.
You might wonder why a person with such an impressive and exciting background, who could work anywhere, would choose to work in a build-to-print environment. Mike’s decision to work at DMS comes from his heart and love for his hometown. On the one hand, he gets to leverage his strengths and tap into his passion for injection molding, but it also has a lot to do with DMS’s culture and the fact that we are a part of Detroit’s resurgence.
As a manager, Mike understands that the most successful programs have the most successful teams. He embraces what he calls “good stress,” which is experienced when the work is challenging, and there are problems to solve, and solutions are derived from a great team that works together. Team dynamics are extremely important to achieving successful outcomes, and Mike respects his team and the culture that binds us together.
Mike loves spending time with his tight-knit family outside of work, including his wife of 29 years and his two adult daughters. He enjoys swimming, running, and especially bike riding. Like so many of us throughout Michigan, Mike is passionate about working on his project car – a 1973 Camaro on which he is doing an LS Engine swap and restoration. Mike’s first car was a 1972 Camaro, so this car is a little like taking a drive down memory lane. Once it’s complete, look for Mike in the parking lot at DMS because he can’t wait to drive that ’73 beauty to work.
Thank you, Mike, for sharing a little bit of your incredible story with us and for your hard work and contributions!