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The GE Brief – July 9, 2019

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July 9, 2019


In another world, Amanda Berta might have been one of the women who just won the big trophy in Lyon, France. After all, she got her collegiate athletic start on the college championship team at Penn State — but ended up getting cut her junior year. If you know anything at all about Berta, though, you know that didn’t stop her. Switching to rugby, Berta continued to power forward, and now she’s vying for a chance to compete in the next Olympic Games on the U.S. women’s rugby team. When she’s not training energetically toward that goal, Berta is consumed with energy of a different sort: Her day job is at GE Renewable Energy in Chicago, where she creates digital dashboards that help customers and GE colleagues alike use data to make smarter decisions.

Work hard, play hard: Not long ago, when Berta had the chance to attend an athletic training camp in California, she thought she’d need to take a leave of absence from her job. But her supervisors had a better idea. Impressed with their young employee’s passion, energy and dedication, they designed a schedule whereby Berta could train with her team for nine hours a day, reserving her nights and early mornings to work remotely on energy’s digital future. This past December, Berta ended up being cut from the rugby team as its coaches rejiggered their roster. But that’s only caused her to train harder to regain her place: When GE Reports caught up with Berta last winter, she was chugging a protein shake before heading out into the frigid Chicago streets for a vigorous morning workout.

Read more here about Berta’s tireless journey toward the Olympics — and the electrifying work she does for GE Renewable Energy, too. Check out the video here from the day GE Reports spent with Berta.



The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, or ARPA-E, is in the business of funding ambitious research that leads to world-changing innovations — and fomenting the kinds of public-private collaborations that can get us there. GE is no stranger to government work; in the past, the company has been a partner on everything from the first U.S. jet engine to humankind’s maiden voyage to the moon. Now GE, ARPA-E and industry counterparts are convening to undertake another monumental task: helping the power sector pivot to renewable energy in the face of climate change.

Power in numbers: That’s a key topic this week at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, which is drawing industry and government players to Denver to talk over the latest technology. This year’s summit will showcase nearly 300 early-stage technologies seeking to improve the grid, boost energy storage, scale carbon sequestration and solve other critical challenges of the energy transition. GE is already deeply involved in this field: The company’s businesses are developing circuit breakers that will transmit large amounts of renewable energy across an upgraded power grid, software that can help grid operators maximize their use of renewable sources, and 3D-printed components that can help squeeze every drop of energy out of steam turbines.

Click here for a roundup of recent projects that prove the power of public-private collaboration.



Age is a risk factor for breast cancer, so Lake Medical Imaging — which has offices in a central Florida retirement community — sees plenty of patients coming in for mammograms. Recently one of them was Kathi Schue, whose radiologists detected a small gray shadow in her scan that hadn’t been there before. Normally the next step would be an MRI — but Schue has a metal implant, so magnetic imaging was a nonstarter. Luckily her doctors had access to an alternative: GE Healthcare’s SenoBright Contrast-Enhanced Spectral Mammography, or CESM, technology. It works like a typical mammogram, but with the additional use of a contrast agent injected into patients just before the scan. The quick process it enables — radiologists can review images in less than 10 minutes — helps doctors make swift diagnoses and gives patients peace of mind.

Lightbulb moment: “When I was called to see the results, I knew why they call it SenoBright,” Schue said. “It was like someone turned on a lightbulb on the screen.” The evidence provided by the SenoBright convinced Schue’s doctors to perform a biopsy — which revealed a 4 mm invasive ductal cancer. Because it was caught early, Schue’s surgeons could remove two clear sentinel nodes without having to put Schue through chemotherapy or radiation treatment. At Lake Medical Imaging, radiologists have made SenoBright one of the central tools in their effort to uphold a patient-centric philosophy, providing same-day results as often as possible. “So many women are extremely fearful of breast cancer,” said the clinic’s managing physician, Cathrine Keller. “Even coming in for a screening mammogram makes them anxious. If I can make that experience better for them, it’s more likely they’ll continue to have their annual screenings.”

Click here to learn about how SenoBright is helping make breast cancer screening more patient-friendly.




1. Full Of Hot Air

Researchers at Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have figured out that the hot air wafting up from underground rail systems can be harnessed to heat apartment buildings — and cut CO2 emissions.

2. Mind Meld

Telepathy is real — or at least realer than it was before the introduction of BrainNet, which a team from the University of Washington describes as “the first multiperson noninvasive direct brain-to-brain interface for collaborative problem solving.” Sitting in separate rooms, test subjects used the technology to play a three-person Tetris-like game.

3. Eye Spy

Move over, progressive lenses. Stanford University engineers are working on a prototype for “autofocals”: smart glasses that follow the movement of your eyes and focus wherever you’re looking.


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



“Things can change at any time. What seems like the end of the world might be the beginning of a new one.”

Amanda Berta, GE Renewable Energy team member and U.S. women’s rugby team hopeful


Quote: GE Reports. Image: GE Reports.

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