In the News

by David Wethe

General Electric Co. has a solution for U.S. oil and natural gas explorers struggling to save more money after squeezing drilling costs by more than a third during the past two years.

Raven, a helicopter drone being developed in part by GE at its new $125 million oil and gas technology center in Oklahoma City, is being tested to sniff for methane emissions at well sites. GE proved during a trial run in July that Raven could find gas leaking from a pair of well sites a half mile from each other in the Fayetteville Shale of Arkansas.

Detecting and stopping leaks, a requirement the Environmental Protection Agency enacted earlier this year, is the first of many planned applications for oilfield drones to make workers more productive in an industry that has suffered billions of dollars in spending cuts, hundreds of thousands of layoffs and more than 100 bankruptcies in North America over the past two years. A broader benefit will come from Raven’s custom software, used to plan flight paths and easily interpret the mountains of data it gathers.

"When you think of Project Raven and the usage of new tools and applications, it’s going to be key to take the industry forward," Lorenzo Simoneli, chief executive officer at GE Oil & Gas, said in an interview Tuesday from his company’s new research center, a day ahead of its grand opening. "There’s a lot that you can do going forward to help drive productivity."


Bill Loveless, for USA TODAY 6:58 a.m. EDT October 5, 2016

For General Electric, the timing of its new $125 million oil and natural gas technology center in Oklahoma City couldn’t be better.

The oil and gas industry is suffering one of its worst slumps ever, with recovery slow to take hold and unlikely to deliver any time soon the much higher prices producers enjoyed a few years ago.

That puts a premium on new technologies that can discover and produce oil and gas faster, more efficiently and less expensively.

“When we broke ground in 2014, we had no idea that the market was about to enter into the worst downturn in more than 30 years, forcing companies to evaluate long-standing industry methods and norms,” C. Michael Ming, general manager of the GE Global Research Oil & Gas Technology Center, said in a letter to The Journal Record, an Oklahoma City business newspaper.

“Many of the systems in place for years aren’t sustainable in a downturn, and if this downturn is the new normal, we must find ways to work smarter and more efficiently.”

Ming will join Oklahoma officials, GE executives and customers of the conglomerate in a ceremony Wednesday celebrating the facility, the first GE research center to be focused solely on innovation in a single sector.

The five-story center includes 10,000-square-feet of laboratories and two indoor test wells — one 360-feet deep and the other 43-feet deep — where 120 or so GE engineers, scientists and technicians can simulate conditions in wells and collaborate with customers on new means of probing and producing from oil and gas formations.

The Oklahoma City operation also draws on expertise from other GE technology centers and businesses around the world, what the corporation refers to as the “GE Store.”



An engineering student from the University of Wisconsin–Madison has won an international competition sponsored by GE with his idea for proving that you can, in fact, unring a bell.

Chris Nguyen, a fourth-year biomedical engineering major in the College of Engineering from Waukesha, Wisconsin, is one of three winners of “Unimpossible Missions: The University Edition.” The contest challenged students around the world to select a catchphrase (such as “a snowball’s chance in hell”) and imagine an experiment to debunk it using GE technology. The ideas and experiments poured in from across the globe, and in the end, the challenge received over 575 entries from over 375 schools and 35 countries.

To debunk the idiom “You can’t unring a bell,” Nguyen theorized that he could use foam to isolate the bell’s ring and eliminate unwanted echo. From there, he will use a microphone and GE’s subsea acoustics system to analyze the exact frequency and amplitude of the bell. Finally, he will produce the exact same sound in inverse phase — thereby creating destructive interference. The interfering sound will play over speakers, resulting in noise cancellation of both the bell and the interference, and creating absolute silence.

Nguyen will receive a 10-week paid internship in 2017 at the GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna, New York, and a scholarship of up to $100,000 to continue his education. He’ll also have his idea filmed as part of GE’s next “Unimpossible Missions” series.

“Chris Nguyen’s approach to this challenge exemplifies the Badger spirit: tackling the seemingly impossible with creativity and rigor,” says UW–Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “I congratulate him on his victory and thank GE for creating this opportunity to showcase the innovative spirit of university students.”

GE representatives will visit campus Sept. 12 to celebrate Nguyen’s win.

When Brazil’s Isaquias Queiroz dos Santos pulled ahead of rivals from Russia and Moldova to win a silver medal in the 1,000-meter canoe sprint, he owed some thanks to an unlikely supporter: U.S. manufacturer General Electric Co.

The Brazilian national team is the only one using a version of GE’s Predix software to capture real-time data on athletes and their canoes to scrutinize and improve performance. GE developed the technology to monitor the engines that power airplanes and locomotives, measuring fuel efficiency and anticipating maintenance needs.

While scientists in Rio de Janeiro are working to deploy the technology on floating oil vessels dotting the South Atlantic, they also found time to develop a side application to help Brazil’s national canoeing team.

“Instead of monitoring GE equipment we are monitoring athletes, so coaches can see that in real time,’’ Kenneth Herd, the leader of GE’s global research center in Brazil, said in an interview. “We take data off those athletes, in terms of things like heart rate, stroke rate, speed and motion.”

Queiroz finished behind Germany’s Sebastian Brendal to take second in the canoe sprint final on Tuesday, and will compete in the 200-meter sprint on Wednesday.

Many are still waiting for the advent of a desktop 3D printer in every home—as ubiquitous as the PC or the kitchen stove—and the common practice of simply fabricating virtually whatever we want due to need or whim before they will believe 3D printing truly has a future. It may be easy to adopt that opinion if you aren’t keeping track of the accelerated pace at which the technology is evolving, and missing out on projections from expert analysts researching areas like that of 3D printed medical devices or investigating what kind of revenues the industry of 3D printing and related technology will produce just in the next year.

Somehow though, it’s all very believable when you hear it from GE—a company that’s certainly not only an inspiration for many others in terms of massive innovation but perhaps a role model too for other industrial heavy hitters as they pave the way for additive manufacturing to progress further around the world, from a smart factory in Chakan, India to their latest $40 million Center for Additive Technology Advancement in Pittsburgh.

Recently, Christine Furstoss, Vice President and Technical Director for Manufacturing and Materials at GE Global Research, presented her thoughts on the much-discussed manufacturing revolution, beginning with explaining how strides in the medical field are indeed enabling the ‘seemingly un-impossible to be possible.’

GE is using digital models of individual industrial assets, fed with data from the Internet of Things and tuned with machine learning, to drive efficiency.

"The digital transformation at GE has helped anticipate the needs of a technology-driven society, and it has been both rapid and dramatic," Colin Parris, vice president for Software Research, GE Global Research. "A few years ago, people compared us to other industrial conglomerates like Siemens and United Technologies. Now, as we declare GE will be a top 10 software company by 2020, we're being compared to the Internet and software giants that also have changed the way we live: Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Google."

Jaydeep Karandikar, a Process Engineer in the Manufacturing Processes Lab in Niskayuna, was one of the 16 Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineers recognized by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) for exceptional contributions and accomplishments in the manufacturing industry.

Jaydeep is a key member of GRC’s advanced manufacturing research team, working to overcome manufacturing challenges in machining, develop more cost-effective solutions, and to deploy the digital tools that accelerate the optimization of product  machining in factories. His work and contributions have been instrumental in advancing GE’s Brilliant Factory initiative across multiple branches of GE.

Dale Lombardo, Manager of the Manufacturing Processes Lab, said, “Jaydeep possesses a combination of clear understanding of manufacturing physical principles, of business decision analytics, and a friendly personal style and flexibility that makes him an asset to GE as we are developing brilliant factories  with the manufacturing engineering tools and culture to go with.”

The SME Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award has recognized manufacturing engineers, age 35 or younger, since 1980. This year’s recipients represent the first year that the OYME awards were started longer than any of the qualified nominees could have been alive.

Vic Abate, CTO & SVP, President & CEO, GE Global Research, presented at the Citi Industrials Conference in Boston last week to discuss how GRC is driving technology leadership is to shape GE as a digital industrial company. GE was one of several industrial companies presenting to analysts at the Conference.

During the presentation, he spoke about GE’s unique competitive advantage with the GE Store and the new chapters we are writing in R&D to strengthen the growth of our high-tech infrastructure company. Vic also highlighted the three new interdisciplinary labs that have been established in product management as a science, variable cost productivity and product break-outs to drive more efficient, faster technology adoption.

How will software giants make their mark in the Industrial Internet and the consumer internet?

The answer lies in the Internet of Things.We’re merging with our technology. We demand it in our daily lives. We make decisions about our physical world based on digital tools—we shop online, ask virtual assistants questions, and rely on supercomputers to tackle our toughest problems. As humans, we’ve gone digital.

At GE, the industrial giant that makes everything from airplane and engines and locomotives to power generating turbines and life-saving medical imaging systems, we’ve gone digital, too.

The digital transformation at GE has helped anticipate the needs of a technology driven society, and it has been both rapid and dramatic. A few years ago, people compared us to other industrial conglomerates like Siemens and United Technologies. Now, as we declare GE will be a top ten software company by 2020, we’re being compared to the internet and software giants that also have changed the way we live: Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Google.

— A few months into his tenure as chief technology officer of General Electric, Vic Abate spoke with The Daily Gazette about the direction he's taking GE Global Research in 2016.

Technically, there are thousands of directions. From the Niskayuna headquarters, Abate leads 3,000 Global Research scientists and engineers at Niskayuna and nine other research and development centers worldwide. These 3,000 contribute to and draw from the work of 40,000 engineers at GE's various component businesses. Taken as a whole, this army of minds is working on a staggering number of projects and initiatives at any given time.

If there's one unifying theme that Abate is trying to create -- a single "direction" -- it's to unify the efforts of all those people in 140 GE labs around the world to better build off each other and accelerate development of the company and its businesses.

Seventh-grade engineer Trever Rittberger from Yukon and his teammate Levi Davis set a device of their own design on a table Tuesday at Science Museum Oklahoma and began pumping air through a clear plastic tube.

Composed of cardboard, tubing, syringes, and filters made of sponges, coffee filters and cheese cloth, the Yukon middle school students were attempting to extract pure oil from a mixture of coffee and vegetable oil.

Rittberger and Davis were two of almost 900 middle school and high school students from across Oklahoma competing in a statewide Engineering Fair, sponsored by the GE Foundation, the philanthropic arm of General Electric.

The Engineering Fair is part of a $400,000 STEM initiative launched by the GE Foundation in partnership with the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST). The initiative was created to inspire greater interest from high school students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

GE’s technology centre in Bangalore is a vital cog in driving the digital transformation the firm is aiming at.