GE would not be the company it is today without its employees. From working mothers to U.S. military veterans, GE has a diverse team that should be recognized and celebrated. So, we created a series called the “Quick Six”—six questions we are asking employees to help us learn about their talents and backgrounds. Together, GE works.

In our next installment of Quick Six, The Bike Shop sat down with Michael Eilers, a Digital Thread leader at GE Aviation in Cincinnati, Ohio. GE Aviation is proud to announce that Michael Eilers made the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Manufacturing & Industry for his work on Digital Thread!

How long have you been in your current position, and could you provide a brief overview of what you do?

I joined the Ceramic Composite Matrix (CMC) Digital Team 2 years ago, just a few months after the group was formed. As the Digital Thread Leader, my job is to locate data in all its various forms and sources, stitch it together and make it readily accessible for anyone working with CMCs. Since then, our team has automated the compiling and stitching of data from dozens of sources to create a complete digital thread of data from initial raw material production, through all stages of manufacturing and assembly, to its exact location inside an engine in service.

How did you end up in this position? Did you always want to work in aviation?

For the first several years of my career at GE in Production Control, I started each day by grabbing my clipboard and walking the shop floor to find parts. Every day was a scavenger hunt spent trying to locate parts, figuring out what needed to be done to ship them to the customer, and making sure we had enough parts in the line. Finally, I decided we needed better tools than a clipboard to track production, so I left the shop floor to join the new CMC Digital Team and to build something better. I jumped at the opportunity to join this team because we are focused on connecting the right data with the right people and leading the transformation into a Digital Industrial company.

I have always wanted to work in a high-tech industry that has a positive impact on that customers we serve. It’s hard to find a more exciting and innovative industry than aviation and I love working on the cutting edge of new technology.

What motivates or inspires you to work hard?

People all over the world rely on our engines to get the job done every day. Delivering for those customers motivates me to find new ways to produce parts and our keep engines running.

What has been a lesson you’ve learned while working at GE? Do you have any advice for other people?

Don’t be afraid to try something new. GE has been around 125 years because we are constantly innovating and learning as a company. We should apply the same principle in our own careers and never get too comfortable doing things the same way every day. We all need to become familiar with new digital tools, the data lake, and how our actions affect the quality of data we generate because it all becomes part of the digital thread.

What is your favorite engine and why? Could you draw a picture of it?

The LEAP engine is my favorite, not only because it is the first commercial engine to use CMC parts, but also because I have been working on it since the second engine to test. I’ve had the pleasure of tracking these engines through certification and now in service with our customers around the world. I also included the CMC shroud because that’s what I’ve been working on for over four years!

What is one potentially surprising thing that people don’t know about you?

My wife and I saw the “Big Five” (elephant, rhinoceros, lion, leopard, and cape buffalo) in person on safari in South Africa. We had some adventures and close encounters with nature that you really can’t get anywhere else in the world.

Did you know Quick Six is a series? Read our previous features: