Like many high school students thinking about their future after graduation, Cory Sheldon knew he wanted a hands-on job that didn’t require spending more time in a traditional classroom. So, after being introduced to welding, he traded his school desk for the shop floor.
Now Cory hopes to advance his new career with GE Aviation as a welder. “It’s just a passion at this point,” Sheldon said.
For others who want to master a trade, there might be a job opening for you at one of GE Aviation’s over 20 manufacturing sites spread across the U.S.
Amid commercial aviation’s biggest ramp-up for jet engine production ever, GE Aviation has reached new educational partnerships and launched new training programs to build awareness of its manufacturing jobs. The goal is to attract more qualified applicants and grow the skill sets of its existing production workers.
Visiting www.GE.com/Careers will reveal thousands of job titles listed for hourly and professional roles at the jet engine maker’s U.S. locations.
GE Aviation and its joint ventures, which manufacture jet engines and engine parts for airplanes worldwide, produced approximately 3,700 jet engines in 2018. This would beat record production levels set the year before.
Just one product, the LEAP engine made by CFM International, a 50/50 joint venture company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines, has become the single highest-selling turbofan in the commercial engine industry. Since the program was launched 10 years ago, more than 16,500 LEAP engines have been sold, a $240 billion value.
“This is unprecedented product growth for a shop like Unison in the Dayton area, so we had to hire to meet the demand,” said Tyler Reed, senior plant manager for Unison Industries.
Unison is a wholly-owned subsidiary of GE Aviation that manufactures small and large diameter tubes, and complex air, fuel, and engine build up (EBU) ducts for jet engine heating and cooling systems.
The design of the LEAP engine’s heating and cooling pathways are more complex than previous CFM International engine products to improve fuel efficiency. This has increased the engine’s number of air, fuel and oil tubes and ducts, along with other parts produced at Unison. Now more than half of Unison’s output is tied to the LEAP engine.
“We are investing in both employee development and manufacturing technology, but due to the complexity of some of these parts we make, we are unable to automate all of them,” Reed said.
The most in-demand hourly positions at many GE Aviation factories are machinists and welders. Yet, hiring managers at local plants find the pool of skilled applicants isn’t big enough.
That’s where local educational partnerships step in. GE Aviation sites are relying on partnerships with technical schools, community colleges and universities to build a pipeline of potential job applicants.
“When we partner with the schools, it’s a way to provide great jobs and embed ourselves in the community there,” said Natalie Van Gramberg, supply chain talent acquisition manager for GE Aviation.
Unison Industries and the local Greene County Career Center together launched a new internship program last year at the Southwest Ohio aerospace supplier.
“Greene County Career Center’s welding and metal fabrication program has a tremendous impact. Our instructor brings real-world experience to his students and offers them the opportunity to learn a wide variety of welding processes. He maintains consistent enrollment and his students readily find work after graduation, helping us meet our goal of building our local workforce,” said Dave Deskins, the career center’s superintendent.
The student seeking hands-on work—Cory Sheldon of Bellbrook, Ohio—started working in March 2018 at Unison as a part-time intern, while also studying to complete his welding certification at the Career Center. Shortly after high school graduation, Cory landed a full-time welding position at Unison when he was just 18-years-old.
“You could go to a trade school, and don’t have to go into as much debt as you would if you went to college,” Sheldon said.
With salary-level job openings also available for manufacturing supervisors, process engineers, quality engineers and more, Cory and other new employees can take advantage of GE’s tuition reimbursement and specialized training programs to obtain a degree to grow their careers.
SPECIALIZED ON-THE-JOB TRAINING
Engines are now being made with new advanced manufacturing processes, such as robotics and additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing. Digital upgrades are being implemented on shop floors to better monitor production lines, anticipate maintenance issues and improve first-time product yields. As a result, greater technical expertise is being sought from employees at all levels.
“We’re growing technical talent internally,” said Kristen Fitzsimmons, senior talent acquisition partner for GE Aviation.
The Technical Talent Development Program is open to new and existing employees and requires at least an associate degree in a related technical or engineering discipline. The manufacturing engineering program is focused on developing and accelerating technical expertise across GE Aviation’s supply chain. It features two 18-month rotations in the same manufacturing plant to build breadth and depth in key technical areas, such as robotics, CNC machining and more.
Recruiting for 2019 is underway with hopes to fill 20 spots across various supply chain sites.
“The TTDP is focused on providing a healthy mix of on-the-job and classroom training opportunities to help provide individuals in this program a solid foundation in which they can build upon following program graduation. Throughout the program, the experiences and training opportunities will be tailored to address current and/or future technical gaps the shop has self-identified,” said Brian Rohm, senior manufacturing manager for GE Aviation who oversees the TTDP program.
MORE JOB GROWTH AHEAD
Another business area in growth mode and continually seeking talent is composite materials. This segment has a wide range of jobs involved in manufacturing raw material fibers and producing a growing number of composite-made engine parts. GE Aviation’s manufacturing plant in Asheville, N.C., was the first of its kind opened to mass produce Ceramic Matrix Composite components for the LEAP engine and will expand to parts for the GE9X engine before it enters service.
With composite production already growing and more engine parts to be made from composites going forward, the Composites Technical Track was started in 2014. Even though the training program isn’t new, recruitment is ongoing for internal and external candidates. A bachelor’s degree in a related field such as ceramics, material science and engineering, fiber and polymer science, or mechanical engineering is required to apply.
The Composites Technical Track has three 18-month long customized rotations, and each rotation is located at a different facility.
“We’re really looking for people that are excited to be in a dynamic environment, hands-on, on the shop floor, who are excited to get away from their desk and see and help the product be made,” said David Kuhn, senior manufacturing manager who oversees the Composites Technical Track program.
Those who fill these important roles are helping change a groundbreaking business, Kuhn said. Internal GE candidates can use the Career Opportunity System to apply. External candidates can visit www.GE.com/Careers, and search job number 3114323.
“As we’re standing up these businesses, we need to grow the technical talent right from the beginning,” he said. “We have a lot of expertise and we wanted to begin filling that pipeline of the next era of composites technical know-how.”