The Edison Edge: Emily Cheng
Emily Cheng joined GE Research in early 2019 as a member of the Edison Engineering Development Program (EEDP) after receiving her master’s in Material Science & Engineering from Cornell University. Emily is currently working with the Structural Materials team on commercial airplane and gas turbine engine repair and development using high-temperature nickel superalloys, an initiative that allows her to regularly interact with both the GE Aviation and GE Power businesses.
Though her previous research experience was primarily in the electronics industry, the Edison program has allowed Emily to explore metals research and development over the past several months. Emily’s time is usually split between working in the lab, presenting her team’s work to the GE businesses, and figuring out next steps to take on projects, but no two days look the same. This flexibility allows her to explore different research areas, which is a distinctive feature of GE Research’s EEDP. “I’m given space to explore things on my own and to work independently. I appreciate that my team really considers the new ideas that I bring up,” says Cheng.
Emily recalls a time a few months ago when she tackled a big problem and ended up with an incorrect conclusion. She saw that mistake as an opportunity to improve and gathered more data until she found what she was looking for. While her initial conclusion was wrong, she found that she hadn’t been as far off base as she’d thought. Emily believes that learning how to fail is a crucial step in finding success, and she is grateful that she’s given the space to do so at GE Research.
While the unmatched opportunities of the Edison program and the fascinating work that GRC engineers do attracted her to GE Research, the company culture was what made it stand out. “People are very supportive and friendly, and they truly wish success for their colleagues,” says Emily. And the balance between professional and personal life that characterizes GE Research and the EEDP has allowed her to continue to pursue music production, a passion that she discovered when she was in college. Emily sees her production work as analogous with her research—she does everything from mixing to sound engineering, and the work requires a level of technicality and precision comparable to that of her job.
Emily plans to stay in Structural Materials for her second rotation and see a different aspect of materials research on metals. She’s also excited for her second-year EEDP course, in which she’ll plan, organize and run her own project. This experience will prepare her to write proposals and lead research initiatives in the future. Emily wants to continue to work on projects that impact the aerospace industry, and she’s excited to keep learning and expanding her technical expertise during the rest of her time in the Edison program.