Michael Tschanz, director of Engineering Technology and Analysis at the Walt Disney Company, discusses how dinosaurs brought him to Orlando and the plethora of incredible offerings across the region, all a short drive from home.

The Orlando innovation ecosystem is rich with high-caliber tech talent and boundary-pushing entrepreneurs. In an effort to foster a more connected community, the Orlando Tech Council presents “Profiles in Tech,” a new series highlighting the region’s top executives, innovators and movers and shakers whose ideas and companies are changing the world right from our own backyard.

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This week’s Orlando Profiles in Tech features Michael Tschanz, director of Engineering Technology and Analysis at the Walt Disney Company. He discusses how dinosaurs brought him to Orlando and the plethora of incredible offerings across the region, all a short drive from home.

Have you experienced an “only in Orlando” moment? If so, what was it? 

Whenever I think, “only in Orlando,” I think about all the world-class facilities and events that take place here. I can see a Broadway Across America show in the Walt Disney Theater at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, then go to Disney Springs and shop or catch a late-night snack at one of the many great eateries. We also have two professional sports teams in the region, and those venues host major performances and additional sports offerings. We have an international airport that is adding a third terminal to service destinations all around the world. I can have technology and strategy discussions with my fellow National Center for Simulation board members about how to maintain Orlando’s leadership as a simulation center of excellence. On my way home, I often think, “Where else in the world can you do all of this and yet be home in a relatively short period of time?” We are blessed in so many ways in Orlando, and I feel we are only getting started.

What brought you to the Orlando region? What’s kept you here? 

I was hired by Disney to work on the “DINOSAUR” attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park during the construction of the park in 1997, after working for Texas Instruments on guidance and embedded systems. As Disney’s guest experiences have become more immersive, the need for simulation and model-based development has increased. Growth in this and other technical fields resulted in the creation of a multi-disciplinary team, representing expertise in simulation, materials science, application lifecycle management, model-based robotics design and high-performance data analytics. 

What makes Orlando the right place for your business? How does being in Orlando contribute to your business success or personal growth?

We are an entertainment and storytelling company and having Walt Disney World Resort here certainly is a prime reason for our technical team to be in business here. Orlando offers other advantages including a growing technology base, attractive climate and outdoor activities, and a close drive to beaches on both Florida coasts. Once our team was formed, we pointed to these and the great venues in the Orlando area as draws for potential candidates. University of Central Florida has continued to grow its core of technologies and students, and Florida Polytechnic University also is close by and developing a smart and strong student body, as well.

What makes the Orlando tech ecosystem unique? 

Orlando is at the point of a significant technology upward trajectory. Being at the beginning of this jump will allow other companies and start-ups to guide the direction of where Orlando should be focusing its investments and skillset. One of Orlando’s best assets is its growing workforce of highly technically-capable residents. Orlando isn’t often known as a technical hub, but it should be; and that should attract technology companies that want to accelerate their growth in the marketplace.

What‘s one thing you wish Orlando had? What will it take to make that a reality?

Orlando needs to keep a sharp focus on its transportation options, from bike paths to rail systems. A strong transportation network fuels growth in nearly every industry.

If you had to describe to an out-of-town friend what it’s like to live, work, learn and play in Orlando, what would you say?

I would say there is plenty to do in Orlando with many new opportunities. It has both a growing technical and vibrant arts culture. Orlando also is an accepting and giving community, and I love my area in Hunter’s Creek because of the diversity of its residents.  And as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, there’s always plenty of friends and family willing to visit. So it never feels far from home, wherever home may be.

The Orlando Tech Council is composed of private industry, resource organizations and public partners that work to develop new programs with the core objectives: strengthen the Orlando region’s innovation resources, create new opportunities for companies to scale, and to amplify the region’s success stories, raising the global profile of Orlando as a leading community for entrepreneurship and innovation.

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