If it takes a village to raise a child, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it takes a gathering of bright minds from all over the world to tackle the most critical issues facing humanity today. Three of those bright minds — GE Aerospace engineers Grace Schippers, Natalie Purwo, and Emanuele Quarona — were honored to be included in a group of delegates from over 190 countries at the One Young World Summit, held in October in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Over 45,000 applicants from a wide spectrum of industries competed this year for roughly 2,000 places at One Young World. The first summit was created in 2010 to provide an arena where highly motivated young leaders gather, attend talks, and participate in workshops on globally urgent matters, such as climate change, poverty, and peace and reconciliation, with the ultimate aim to build “a sustainable future for all.” Speakers at this year’s conference included Mary Robinson, former president of the Republic of Ireland, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, and Angela F. Williams, president and CEO of United Way Worldwide.

Sir Bob Geldof delivering a speech on the One Young World Summit stage in Belfast.

Three of GE Aerospace’s representatives were keenly aware of the part aviation has to play in the movement toward decarbonizing the planet. “To contextualize the uniqueness of our position, the aviation industry is responsible for, I believe, 2% to 3% of carbon emissions,” says Schippers, a preliminary design engineer at GE Aerospace working on the RISE program, which is being developed by CFM International, a 50-50 joint company between GE Aerospace and Safran Aircraft Engines.

First unveiled in 2021, the CFM RISE program is a comprehensive suite of engine technologies being matured for ground and flight tests this decade, including new architectures like open fan, as well as compact core advancements. The RISE program aims to achieve 20% better fuel efficiency and 20% fewer CO2 emissions than engines today, while also reducing noise and non-CO2 emissions.

Schippers says she became a mechanical engineer because she wanted to put her talents to use for the greater good. After participating in the One Young World summit in Manchester, England, in 2022, she was asked to return as a guide for the next cohort of attendees. “I was incredibly fortunate that I got to learn from two of these conferences,” she says. “Going forward I’d like to work as a delegation to reinforce and enhance GE Aerospace’s work addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We have a huge network of delegates now that we can rely on, both within and outside of our company.”

Grace Schippers, Preliminary Design Engineer at GE Aerospace, at the OYW Summit.

“Going forward I’d like to work as a delegation to reinforce and enhance GE Aerospace’s work addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals”

Quarona, who serves as an additive process engineer at Avio Aero, a GE Aerospace company operating across Italy, the Czech Republic, and Poland, shares Schippers’ triple devotion to sustainability, altruism, and aircraft engines. “It’s pretty exciting that in my work as an additive processing engineer at Avio Aero, I get to help develop a technology that could decrease CO2 emissions,” he says.

While he had expected to find himself drawn to topics on innovation at One Young World, Quarona was intrigued by the depth of interest in educational equality and accessibility at this year’s summit in Belfast. “Disabled people with brilliant minds might not have access to opportunities if they are living in developing countries where the infrastructure is lacking,” he says. “This is something we must continue to reflect on.”

Emanuele Quarona, Additive Process Engineer at Avio Aero, during the OYW summit.

“Disabled people with brilliant minds might not have access to opportunities if they are living in developing countries where the infrastructure is lacking”

Purwo, a self-styled “steel-toe engineer” who is currently in GE Aerospace’s two-year manufacturing engineering development program (MEDP) in Lynn, Massachusetts, agrees. She points out that when the essential, mundane tasks of daily life are daunting, it’s almost impossible to tackle more complex matters, such as getting an education. “Fresh from the conference, I got out of my Uber and realized something I’d never noticed before: My apartment building doesn’t have push-buttons for people in wheelchairs,” she says. “I’ve returned home with a renewed determination to look out for things that can be improved.”

“Kenyan Senator Krystal Asige, who is visually impaired, said, ‘If what you see is all you see, then you do not see all there is to be seen,’” she added. Purwo tries to pay attention to the challenges others face. She was initially drawn to engineering as a teenager after seeing the difficulty her mother had working at her desk with a sore neck. After coming up with her own design, Purwo used a 3D printer to construct a workstation that helped her mother work pain-free.

Schippers, Quarona, and Purwo were happily surprised by the One Young World summit’s emphasis on mental health, particularly as it relates to climate change. “What was most powerful for me was hearing from members of communities that have been struck by the first wave of climate impact and who are also the least resilient to changes in the global atmosphere,” says Schippers. “Climate anxiety is real. You see that even in countries that are not experiencing complete devastation. It all leads to a deterioration in mental health.”

From the left: Luis Benitez, Olivia McGrath, Natalie Purwo, Joellyn Ketron, Tamanna More, Emanuele Quarona, Grace Schippers.

Having become members of a community more than 15,000 strong, all delegates leave each summit with the designation “One Young World Ambassadors.” Their lifelong privileges include access to funding opportunities, educational resources, mentorship, and speaking engagements. Though Schippers, Purwo, and Quarona have only been back at their respective sites a short time, they’re already discussing potential collaborations with their fellow ambassadors. And they’re reaching out to their GE Aerospace colleagues as well.

“We’d like to bring our experiences back to the culture of GE Aerospace and share it more broadly with the communities we’re in,” says Schippers. “Our industry in particular is extremely vital to the move towards a more resilient and more sustainable world.”