keane-robert-largeRobert Keane III graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach in May 2016.  He is currently a part of GE Aviation’s Edison Engineering Development Program (EEDP).

Discuss the Edison Engineering Development Program (EEDP) you are a part of at GE.

The EEDP and its associated Advance Course in Engineering (ACE) was founded in 1923.  The program has since expanded globally and members of the program are found around the world and are referred to as “Edisons”.  The program is a 3 year program at GE Aviation closely associated with the Advanced Course in Engineering (ACE).

An Edison has a full-time engineering position and is expected to work 40 hours a week as an engineer.  For the first two years, Edisons attend GE sponsored classes, and work in groups on GE projects at their work location.  Master’s level credits are given for these classes and projects.  In the beginning of the 3rd Year, ACE students attend university full time as their sole responsibility while continuing to receive a full-time salary.  This schooling is 100% paid for by GE.  ACE students then work part time and attend school in the last semester of the third year, completing the requirements for a Master’s degree in engineering.  Upon successfully completing the program, Edisons are guaranteed a full-time position within the company.  There is no obligatory time to remain at the company.

early-edison-program-info

Figure 1. Early Edison Program Information

How did you obtain this position?  What advice do you have for others interested?

I attained an internship with GE Aviation between my junior and senior year at ERAU.  I applied for this internship at the Fall ERAU career fair.  During this internship, all interns predicted to graduate within a year were provided the opportunity to apply and interview for the Edison program.  I interviewed and was accepted in September 2015 for a position starting in June of 2016.  Already having a job while I completed both senior semesters, allowed me to focus on my school and relieved the stress of seeking employment.

GE Aviation is shifting its internship hiring method and targeting freshman and sophomore students for internships, with the goal of bringing the same students back for multiple internships.  I would advise applying early.

The single most critical element to being accepted is GPA.  GE recruiters receive hundreds of applications at the career fair and sometimes have a few hours to select just a few for interviews.  The easiest way for a recruiter to cut the number down is to throw away all lower GPA’s.  I highly recommend having a GPA of 3.0 as an absolute bare minimum.  The majority of students in my Edison Class have a GPA closer to or higher than 3.5.

In addition to maintaining grades, an applicant should be involved in extracurricular activities with a technical focus.  Participate in the numerous undergraduate research opportunities provided at ERAU.  Work with a faculty member and join their research, or join one of the technical project clubs on campus.

What has been the best project you have worked on so far?

I am working on a new military fighter jet engine in a mechanical design role.  The engine does not exist yet, and the technology is cutting edge.  This creates a very open design space.  We are doing things that have not been done before.  Therefore, there are fewer specific processes and guidelines for designing the engine.  I find myself constantly returning to the fundamentals of engineering, and creating free body diagrams and solving Roark’s equations.  I really enjoy applying these fundamentals that I worked so hard in school to learn.  The technology is new and incredibly innovative, but the math and design process are the same.  I find it very rewarding to be so directly applying engineering course material in my day-to-day job designing parts for the afterburner of the next generation fighter plane.

What are your future plans?

I currently intend to complete the Edison program and ACE and get my Master’s in aerospace engineering.  The military fighter engines are a lot of fun to work with, and my goal is to rotate through different engineering positions in the military program.  Upon completing the program, I look forward to seeing what GE and the world have to offer.  Together, we will, “Boldy go where no man has gone before.”