NEVER WALK ALONE
Like many kids, Tony Mathis spent a lot of time with his head in the clouds. Fascinated with aviation and engineering, Mathis participated in a high school summer program for aspiring African American engineers, and joined the Air Force after college as a flight-test and propulsion-project engineer. He learned the ins and outs of jet fighters, sure — but Mathis also learned the importance of teamwork, lessons he would bring with him in 1997 when he joined GE Aviation. Working his way up, in 2016 Mathis became GE Aviation’s president and CEO of military systems. But he never forgot where he came from.
Paying it forward: In his first couple of years at GE, Mathis met Lloyd Thompson, an African American executive who became a mentor and close friend. “It was kind of intimidating to be that early in my career at GE but to have an audience with somebody I had admired and watched from afar,” he said. Now a top executive himself, Mathis is a committed mentor to those coming up behind him, involved with the Omega4Life Leadership Program — a partnership with a fraternity that influenced him heavily — as well as the GE Aviation African American Forum Chapter. “Because I’ve come from such a humble beginning and have been able to live my wildest career dreams,” he said, “I spend a lot of time and effort trying to make sure that the Tony Mathis of some other name is afforded the opportunities and support that I got.”
Learn more about Tony Mathis’ journey — and the subsequent journeys he’s cleared a path for — here.
This story is part of a series of GE employee profiles reflecting the diversity of their journeys (like our Lauren Duncan profile). This installment round will focus on the experience of African American employees.
How do you turn a massive passenger jet into a flying cargo vessel that can carry 100 tons of goods around the globe — up to and including aircraft engines and live horses? That’s what engineers in Israel are working on right now, as they convert a Boeing 777-300ER — an efficient workhorse of long-haul passenger aviation, powered by a pair of formidable GE90 engines — into an air cargo freighter. “Everyone thinks converting an aircraft from passenger to freighter is a simple process,” said Richard Greener, senior vice president and manager of GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) Cargo, the freighter platform within GE Capital’s aviation finance business. It isn’t necessarily so.
For the long haul: The conversion program involves over 200 people, some 39 months from start to finish, and a lot of meticulous planning and design. “What we’re really doing is re-engineering the aircraft,” Greener said. The plane is a prototype in a longer-term project — a partnership between GECAS and Israel Aerospace Industries — to convert 15 of the giant passenger planes into a cargo configuration, to meet a projected growth in demand for cargo freighters over the next couple of decades. When the conversion is complete, the 777-300ERSF, aka the “Big Twin,” will be able to carry something as large as a GE90 aircraft engine — for a long time the world’s most powerful jet engine — on the main deck, in addition to express and e-commerce cargo.
Learn more about the conversion project here.
COOLEST THINGS ON EARTH 🌎
1. Mirror, Mirror
Physicists at German’s Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics designed the “lightest optical mirror imaginable” — thousands of times thinner than a human hair.
2. It’s The Beetles
Researchers at the University of Washington used insect vision systems as inspiration for a tiny camera that they mounted to the back of a beetle.
MIT roboticists, meanwhile, designed a model that enables robots to create a 3D map of their environments — and could help the machines move about on the factory floor and in the home.
Read more here about this week’s Coolest Things on Earth.
— QUOTE OF THE DAY —
“It would be irresponsible not to work as hard as I can to give back, when so much has been given to me.”
— Tony Mathis, president and CEO for military systems at GE Aviation
Quote: GE Reports. Images: Tony Mathis.