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The GE Brief – April 16, 2019

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April 16, 2019


Last month, the cruise liner Viking Sky set sail down the coast of Norway with nearly 1,400 people aboard. The voyage turned out to be no pleasure cruise: Hitting a patch of particularly rough weather, the Viking Sky lost engine power, and was forced to drop anchor to avoid being dashed against nearby rocks. Caught in a maelstrom of winds up to 40 miles an hour, and waves more than 25 feet that tipped the ship back and forth, passengers were terrified. “I said to myself, ‘This is it,’” one vacationer from Minnesota told The Associated Press. That wasn’t it, though, because an even more dramatic chapter of the saga was about to unfold: the helicopter evacuation of the ship’s passengers.

Spirited away: As people with injuries and disabilities were evacuated first, the passengers were winched one by one up to five helicopters that had flown in to remove them to safety — including two Sikorsky S-92s, powered by GE Aviation’s CT7 engine and operated by CHC Helicopter Norway. In a painstaking operation that lasted all night and into the following day, a third of the people on board the ship were rescued. Though crews intended to ferry off the full roster, the weather cleared and the ship’s crew was able to restart three of its four engines, steering it into a nearby port.

Read more about the dramatic helicopter rescue here.


Four-fifths of U.S. manufacturers, according to a recent study, are having a hard time finding enough skilled welders to meet demand. If that’s frustrating news for employers, it presents an incredible opportunity for budding metalworkers: These days companies are practically lining up to hire graduates of welding programs. One manufacturer hungry for young talent? Unison, a wholly owned subsidiary of GE Aviation in Dayton, Ohio, that makes parts for jet engine heating and cooling systems. “We’re constantly challenged with trying to find enough folks,” said Natalie Van Gramberg, supply chain talent acquisition manager for GE Aviation. Last year Unison launched an internship program in partnership with the nearby Greene County Career Center to snag promising young welders — just one such example of how GE Aviation is reaching far and wide to attract the next generation of top talent.

The welding planners: GE Aviation is expanding such partnerships as it ramps up production to meet demand for jet engines such as its best-selling LEAP engine, made by CFM International, a 50/50 joint venture between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines. One thing that makes the LEAP engine so popular is its superior efficiency, enabled in part by intricate heating and cooling pathways — like those created by welders at Unison. Starting in 2020, students at the Greene County Career Center will train at a new $62 million facility: the biggest expansion in school history, which local voters approved for funding in recognition of the economic importance of the center to their community. Learning the latest in welding technology, like robotics, students will come out well prepared to succeed in a workforce that’s ready and waiting for them. “When we talk to the industry, they want welders that understand robotics,” said Brett Doudican, curriculum specialist for the career center. “That’s worth a $10-an-hour raise in some places.”

Learn more here about how GE Aviation is helping train aspiring welders.


Northern Finland is a huge but empty slice of Europe. Bisected by the Arctic Circle, the region takes up half of the EU’s sixth largest country by area, but accounts for only about 13% of its population. Most of its inhabitants live in Oulu, Finland’s fifth-largest city, which also contains a bustling medical center at Oulu University Hospital. It’s a vital resource, but it also presents a challenge to those living in the vast hinterlands: What if they need medical attention but are unable to travel? Increasingly, Oulu comes to them. In 2008 the hospital purchased a special truck capable of carrying an entire mobile MRI unit and outfitted it with an MRI system from GE Healthcare. The scanner on wheels was such a hit that the hospital ordered another one. “We wanted to serve our customers near their homes,” said Jaakko Niinimäki, chief radiologist at Oulu University Hospital.

The life-changing magic of mobile MRI: But fitting a new, roomier MRI machine inside the trailer presented its own challenges. Engineers had to reroute cables, squeezing technical equipment into spaces fit for Houdini, and making other adjustments. Now something that would take up three rooms in a medical center can ride inside a 44-foot-long trailer. Meanwhile, patients could feel — said Roope Salonen, a field engineer for GE Imaging — “the same as though they were inside a hospital.”

Since MRI systems require a flat surface to work properly, the mobile system comes with a leveling device to help drivers figure out where to park — and, of course, Wi-Fi, and plenty of heating for the frigid Finnish winters. Find out more about this souped-up imaging unit here.


1. Jolting The Memory

Neuroscientists at Boston University found that noninvasive electrical stimulation applied to the scalp can recharge working memory in older adults, giving them recall abilities on par with 20-somethings.

2. It’s A Gas

At MIT, scientists came up with a new way to purify natural gas by passing it through a polymer membrane — making the process cheaper, faster and more environmentally friendly than it currently is.

3. Lab-Grown Killer Cells

A cancer patient in San Diego became the first person in the world to be treated with a new kind of cell therapy that uses lab-grown “natural killer cells” to target cancer.

Read more about this week’s Coolest Things on Earth here.


My dad is a diesel mechanic, and all his life he’s talked about how hard work is how you succeed. I’ve learned that there’s nearly endless possibilities.

Cameryn Akers, a high school senior who studies at the Greene County Career Center

Quote: GE Reports. Image: SVEIN OVE EKORNESVAAG/AFP/Getty Images.

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