Last week, I spent two amazing days living in the future. Specifically, I spent these days promoting the genius of three great inventors: Jessica, Suman, and Braeden. The cool part about these inventors: they are kids.
Oh, and the reason we all came together was a little thing called the Tonight Show, staring Jimmy Fallon.
Here’s the deal. GE needs technologists, now more than ever in the history of Edison’s company. The need will only grow through the coming decades. We don’t have enough kids pursuing degrees and careers in STEM fields.
GE does a lot to promote STEM activity for kids. At the research center alone we lead dozens of events each year. Everything from Girls Inc. Technology Day, Girl Scout Technology Day and Bring your Child to Work Day, to student mentoring, teaching in the class room, Invention Convention and Science Day.
To take the message nationally, GE teamed up with the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon to create a sketch called “Fallonventions with GE.” The focus of this sketch is on three young inventers and their inventions.
On the May 8th episode, Jimmy highlighted Jessica’s Easy-Moo milk dispenser; Sunam’s Steth IO attachment that turns your smartphone into a stethoscope; and Braeden’s Pizza Decrustifier, which separates the crust from the rest of your pizza in one easy step.
Jessica’s EZ-Moo reminds me of a famous Edison quote – “I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent it.” We’ve all experienced the challenge of watching a kid try to pour a glass of milk from a heavy carton, only to end up with half the milk on the table or the floor. Jessica’s clever attachment not only solves that problem, but has the hallmark of many of the best inventions: its simplicity.
Braeden’s Pizza Decrustifier follows a similar mold. It’s fun hearing Braeden describe the inspiration of his invention – he listened to the complaints of kids, his “customers,” much the same way we poll GE’s customers for insights into new inventions in our products.
Suman’s story is interesting on other levels. He has his own 3D printer….in his bedroom! This is a foreshadow for how the process of inventing itself is changing. The other great thing about Suman is that he is already thinking about how to market his products. At 15, he is the CEO of his own company, StratoScientific!
One great aspect of the experience was that I had the pleasure of meeting the parents of each child. In all cases, these kids had parents who fanned their curiosity, and encouraged them to pursue their ideas. I can’t overstate the role that parents play in encouraging their kids to get excited about STEM fields.
Afterwards, I had the opportunity to interview the kids. What a fun way to spend an evening! And the next morning, Jessica and I went live on BloombergTV with Eric R. and Stephanie Ruhle. I was blown away by Jessica’s poise and passion.
It’s not every day I get a call asking if I would mind going to New York City to the Tonight Show to shoot some online videos. But far more important than that is meeting my “talent pipeline.” By my math, Suman will be finishing his Ph.D. right around 2024, and Braeden and Jessica should be graduating around 2030. With luck, I’ll still be hiring researchers for the company then and they could be inventing for GE well into the 2060s. That, my friends, is the future.
GE is the only company from the original Dow Industrial Index to be standing 100 years later. That staying power is due to a company that constantly innovates, a company that has the humility to constantly change, and a company that demands filling our ranks with creative, innovative inventors.
Edison would want it no other way. If I have anything to say about it, GE will be here 100 years from now, and it will be thanks to the ingenuity of inventors like Jessica, Suman and Braeden.
Jessica, Suman and Braeden: Thanks for your curiosity and ingenuity, and allowing GE to be a part of your experience. All the best to you, and when you get to grad school, make sure to send me your resumes!