STEM Professional of the week

Michael E. Labonge, P.E.      
Walt Disney World Resort

Michael E. Labonge directs a diverse team of over 160 individuals at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Design & Engineering organization.  His group is responsible for production and maintenance of the complex systems and machines that Disney uses to deliver its unique brand of theme park entertainment to millions of guests every year.  

He manages the labor, expense and capital budgets for his team and he's responsible for the development of strategic plans for the continued growth of the organization in accordance with the company’s strategies and vision.  His total efforts directly impact the  quality and safety of the guest and employee experiences on attractions, transportation and entertainment venues Disney presents around the world.

Mr. Labonge has proven instrumental to Disney's strong advocacy of STEM in the community.  He's sponsored the “Engineering the Magic” program within Design & Engineering, serves as a mentor and supporter of the FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Lego League, and he joins his team on its monthly visits to local elementary and middle schools. On those visits, the group brings interactive and lively Disney-branded presentations of science, engineering and mathematics to students, many who are from underserved communities.  Thanks to programs like these, Disney has seen an increase both in the number of high school students interested in FIRST Robotics Competition efforts, and in the number of college students seeking internships.

Mr. Labonge is a strong advocate of the continued diversification of the Design & Engineering team.  His leadership has emphasized the selection, mentorship and early career promotion of engineers from underrepresented groups.  He has personally stepped-up to mentor and advise young Hispanic engineers in Design & Engineering.  In one case, Mr. Labonge guided a female Hispanic engineer to pursue additional  education and experience, better preparing her for a career in engineering.  She has since developed into a top performer on the Design & Engineering team, recently receiving a prestigious internal company award.  In another case, Mr. Labonge was a key mentor for an emerging Hispanic engineering leader.  This engineer has become Director at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.

Michael E. Labonge has created internal networks with Facility Asset Management, Operations, Engineering Services, and Entertainment to better facilitate cross-divisional promotion and continued diversification and mentoring of all cast members from across the Walt Disney brand.

Mr. Labonge came to The Wald Disney World Resort sixteen years ago from Raychem Corporation where he was an engineering manager working in telecommunications.  Prior to joining Raychem, he started his career as a Mechanical Engineer at Pratt & Whitney  in West Palm Beach designing and building jet engines for the Air Force’s F-15 and F-16 fighters. 

Mr. Labonge developed a love of competitive swimming at a young age.  This passion led to a full swimming scholarship to Clemson University where he graduated as the school's top scholar athlete.   Mr. Labonge has a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering -cum laude - from Clemson University, and a master of science degree in product design with a minor in ergonomics from North Carolina State University.   Mr. Labonge was honored with the HENAAC Vanguard Award in 2012.

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