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GE develops engineering leaders with EEDP

Students rotate through the company's businesses and take on real-world assignments

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Emily Hawthorne is analyzing structural hardware for a new aircraft engine. She enjoys the variety of rotations.

Emily Hawthorne is analyzing structural hardware for a new aircraft engine. She enjoys the variety of rotations.

General Electric (GE, Fairfield, CT) is a company with a history of innovation. It is more than 125 years old and has a dozen different technology, service and financial businesses, from aircraft engines to power generation to nanotechnology. GE has more than 300,000 employees and does business in over 100 countries around the world.

"The company has a huge global presence," says Steve Canale, manager of recruiting and staffing for GE's Global Research Center. Half of GE's employees work outside the U.S., and half the company's revenues are generated in other countries.

Leadership and training
Steve Canale

Steve Canale

GE has offered corporate leadership programs for decades. The company currently spends more than $1 billion a year in career development for employees at various professional levels, including new grads in engineering, IT, operations management and other less technical areas. All programs combine rotational training assignments with formal classroom study, and give participants broad experience in a short time.

For many new grads, "The strongest attraction of GE is our success in leadership development," Canale says.

A distinctive program
Nancy Martin

Nancy Martin

"The Edison Engineering Development Program (EEDP) is one of the most distinctive programs at GE," says Nancy Martin, manager of leadership business development for entry-level talent and new employees. Martin is responsible for overall execution of and strategy for EEDP, which counts many of today's company leaders among its graduates.

EEDP, the oldest of GE's rotational programs for new BS grads, provides three or more assignments over two to three years. Assignments are driven by real GE business priorities, which may include working with systems, analysis, design, quality, reliability, integration and testing. Program members develop and enhance their technical problem-solving skills through advanced engineering course work, reports and team presentations. Another benefit of EEDP is the opportunity to earn a masters in engineering while in the program.

First-year EEDP participants are required to take GE's engineering "A course," which is designed to sharpen technical and problem-solving skills. The "B course" applies technical skills to actual business proposals. Program participants can get their masters in engineering through the distance education program of either Georgia Institute of Technology or Purdue University.

Emily Hawthorne: the appeal of rotations
Emily Hawthorne

Emily Hawthorne

"The most appealing thing to me about EEDP has been the different rotations," says Emily Hawthorne, now in her second year. She is currently analyzing structural hardware for a brand new aircraft engine.

Hawthorne earned her bachelor of science in engineering from the University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, IN) in 2004. Her father was a chemical engineer, and always had an appreciation for math and science. The summer before her senior year, she interned with GE. At that time all interns were given the chance to interview for EEDP. "The interview was intense," says Hawthorne. "There were three panels to assess my technical aptitude, personal skills and ability to adapt to the GE culture." As a potential candidate she also participated in a group exercise and gave a ten-minute presentation.

Hawthorne applied because "GE was very impressive. The opportunity to take on new assignments every six months was great, and to be able to pursue a masters at the company's expense was very inviting." She was pleased that the company invested time to not only help its employees further their education, but also diversify their experiences.

Roya Mirhosseini: an incredible learning opportunity
Roya Mirhosseini

Roya Mirhosseini

Roya Mirhosseini joined EEDP immediately after graduating from Worcester Polytech Institute (Worcester, MA) in May 2005 with an electrical and computer engineering degree. Mirhosseini is originally from Iran and moved to the U.S. in 1997. She was thrilled when she was selected for the program. "It was the longest interview of my life," she recalls. "I was evaluated for eight hours on competency, behavior and technical skills."

For her first rotation she was assigned to a project developing sensors for an aircraft engine. "These sensors need to operate at very high temperatures and be extremely reliable. They will enable GE's aircraft engines and turbines to reach higher efficiencies and reduce environmental emissions. That will save GE customers like airlines and power generation utilities millions of dollars in fuel every year," explains Mirhosseini.

In the next few months Mirhosseini will be involved with signal processing and data analysis. She finds EEDP extremely beneficial for innovative technical professionals. "Another neat thing about EEDP is the B course in the second year, where we get to think of an idea and develop a product. This allows us to get a lot of exposure at the Global Research Center," says Mirhosseini. "The Edison program has been the foundation of many successful careers. This is an incredible learning opportunity that must be taken if given the chance."

EEDP recruiting efforts
GE makes a conscious effort to hire students of diverse ethnic backgrounds. The company works closely with SHPE, NSBE and SWE, and attends those organizations' national and regional college career fairs. It recruits heavily on college campuses in the fall and spring, and stays active on many campuses throughout the year.

GE encourages student leadership organizations to promote EEDP to their members. "Last year we hired the student presidents of the Purdue chapters of both NSBE and SHPE," says Canale.

EEDP is extremely competitive. According to Canale, approximately 10,000 resumes are received during the application period, but only about 2,000 interviews are conducted. About 200 candidates are selected each year, and over 75 percent accept positions.

Canale notes that all candidates must have a passion for technology and demonstrate academic excellence, a commitment to innovation and quality, and strong analytical, problem-solving and communication skills. In addition to an engineering degree, the company looks for relevant co-op or internship experience during college and a minimum GPA of 3.0. In fact, more than half of EEDP hires started as interns or co-ops at GE itself.

Info on both EEDP and student employment programs at GE is at www.gecareers.com.

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