May 14, 2019
For Agnes Berzsenyi, science and engineering run in the family: Growing up in Hungary she was encouraged by her mother, a math and technical teacher, to pursue her dream of becoming an engineer. Berzsenyi recently sent her own 17-year-old daughter, Sophie, to a summer STEM program. And when Sophie came home with a design idea for a hovercraft, that also reflected the family tradition — Agnes Berzsenyi had an early interest in flight, too. Launching her career at GE Aviation, she’s continued to rocket through GE since: Berzsenyi introduced GE Healthcare’s first pocket-sized ultrasound, and now runs Women’s Health. She’s also passed her know-how on to the next generation, and not just within her own family. Berzsenyi is the executive co-sponsor of GE Girls, a global, companywide program that introduces middle school girls to STEM careers.
Pay it forward: The fact that women are underrepresented in STEM fields, Berzsenyi said, is “exactly why we have to encourage girls to ignite their interest, to be confident and to believe in themselves.” The importance of having women in STEM jobs goes beyond any one individual or company — it’s also important for the beneficiaries of tech innovation. Berzsenyi experienced this at GE Healthcare when a group of female designers, engineers and marketers joined forces with customers to design a new mammography system. Created with the patient experience in mind, the Senographe Pristina reduces the awkwardness and discomfort that often discourage women from getting routine breast exams. “We actually created equipment by women for women,” Berzsenyi said.
And what happened to Berzsenyi’s favorite STEM mentees — her daughters? Learn more here.
When Patricia Leary joined GE Aviation in 1949, she was one of just 4,000 female engineers in the country. Her math and engineering skills helped GE build its first supersonic jet engine, the J79. More than a thousand J79 engines are still at work in the world today, and so is another big achievement of Leary’s — her son Mark, who joined GE in 1989 and, following in his mother’s footsteps, also has a brief that includes jet engines. The Leary lineage is just one example of how motherhood runs through the history of GE. In honor of Mother’s Day, GE Reports rounded up some highlights.
The mother of invention: Women at GE have pioneered creative ways to balance parenthood and professional life. Metallurgist Laura Dial, for instance, shifted to a four-day schedule at GE Research when she had a baby a few years ago. “I can’t imagine the struggles of the folks before me who years ago basically got the ultimatum, ‘You either come back full time or you don’t come back,’” she said. “I’m still absolutely growing my career while still not working 100% time.” Another pair of engineers at GE Power in New York came up with an ingenious arrangement when both became pregnant around the same time: Lynda Kaufman and Bobbi Eldrid devised a plan to split a job overseeing the 7F gas turbine line.
GE’s support for mothers extends beyond the lab and factory though — the company also designs technology to ensure the good health of mothers and their newborn babies. Learn more here, and see below.
Both Ana Paula Silveira and her husband, Alvaro Zermiani, are legally blind. So when the pair started planning for their first child a few years ago, they knew they wouldn’t be able to see what the baby looked like on an ultrasound monitor. But the couple — who live in Sao Paulo, Brazil — headed for the offices of Dr. Heron Werner, an OB-GYN who uses a 3D printer to make lifelike models of babies from images obtained by a GE ultrasound machine. He was able to make models of Silveira and Zermiani’s son, Davi, throughout Silveira’s pregnancy. “When we touched the second model, with Davi’s face, we realized his resemblance to us,” Silveira said. “We were able to not only know that our baby was growing healthy but also to have a very real contact and establish a very strong involvement with our son.”
For the whole family: Werner got the idea to make 3D-printed models after a visit to Rio de Janeiro’s National Museum, which was using a tomography machine to digitize its ancient Egyptian exhibits. He thought: Why not use medical imaging technology to print models of fetuses? Werner relied on GE Healthcare’s Voluson E10, the first ultrasound in the OB-GYN field with built-in 3D-printing capability. Doctors can use the technology to give expectant parents a better understanding of congenital deformities like cleft lip — in addition to helping blind parents meet their new child. “Following up on our son’s evolution allowed us to have this feeling of being whole because we feel with our hands,” Silveira said.
Learn more here about how these expectant parents benefited from 3D-printing technology.
1.Turning A Phage
For the first time in a human patient, a cocktail of bacteriophages — viruses that kill bacteria — has successfully vanquished an infection that had resisted treatment with antibiotics.
2. Breathe Easy
A team from Columbia Engineering and Vanderbilt University have developed a technique for lung regeneration that may help alleviate a worldwide organ shortage.
3. Robot Gourmands
In China, food manufacturers have improved profit margins by employing taste-testing robots, powered by artificial intelligence, to ensure quality control.
Read more about this week’s Coolest Things on Earth here.
— QUOTE OF THE DAY —
“At the age of 17, I was the only kid in my town, boy or girl, to leave the country to study engineering in Germany. I really did believe I could do anything.”
— Agnes Berzsenyi, president and CEO of Women’s Health at GE Healthcare
Quote: GE Reports. Image: GE Healthcare.
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