From working parents to military veterans, GE would not be the company it is today without its employees. We created “Quick Six” to celebrate our diverse talent by asking employees six questions that uncover the unique ways that they contribute to GE and the world.
In our next installation of Quick Six, we sat down with Katie Schafer, Quality Engineer for Asheville’s Rotating Parts shop and recent winner of the Women Up’s Rising Star Award for her involvement in STEM education in the community.
How long have you been in your current position, and could you provide a brief overview of what you do?
I have been a quality engineer for Asheville’s Rotating Parts shop for just over two years. As a Quality Engineer, I support production to ensure product conformance and improve part yield to ultimately reduce lead time and part cost. The last couple of years have also exposed to me to two New Product Introductions (NPIs), on which I’ve really enjoyed figuring out how to make GE90 and LEAP hardware with compliant inspection methods.
How did you end up in this position? Did you always want to work in Aviation?
Aviation and Asheville have always been great areas to develop expertise in advanced technologies and processes. I came here immediately after completing OMLP, wanting to return to the beautiful state of North Carolina having rotated through Durham. Aviation itself has always been an inspirational field as my mom flew on helicopters as a nurse for most of her career and I’ve always loved watching the crafts come and go to save lives. Every day I can do my part as a quality engineer to create valuable and safe products for our customers.
What motivates or inspires you at work?
What we do is important and super cool. I love talking to aspiring engineers about aviation and our impact as a quality department to ensure our customers go home safe every day. We also know how to have a lot of fun as a team across the shop. This group is hugely collaborative across quality engineers, process engineers and team leads, providing both coaching and any excuse for a potluck.
What has been a lesson you’ve learned while working at GE? Do you have any advice for other people?
Do not be intimidated to stretch skill sets. Whether technical or interpersonal, identify the areas in which you can and should grow as a person and employee. Hold to your values, especially within the quality organization. Strive every day to feel you’ve made an impact on the business and world around you.
What inspired you to get involved in STEM education and coach the high school robotics team in your community?
While still in school, I too participated in FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology)! Back in 3rd grade I did LEGO League and have wanted to become and engineer ever since! This program is ultimately what set me up for a technical career I’m still passionate about today. My high school mentors were engineers who taught me the value of critical thinking and project execution in a dynamic team environment. Now I have the rewarding ability to create this environment for students in Asheville. Year over year you can see their minds and leadership developing, eventually graduating to (mostly) pursue STEM careers. Even the non-technical students gain invaluable skills in project management and teaming through project-based-learning. Engineering for me is about creating a better world today and tomorrow; FIRST Robotics provides the platform for inspiring students (along with re-inspiring adults like me) through an engaging and competitive yearly design challenge.
What is your favorite engine and why? Could you draw a picture of it?
GE90 and you don’t want me to draw a picture of it, but I will anyway just to offend my friends in design engineering. When it comes to impressive engine programs, it’s the big engine with world records in size and thrust with a beautiful fan to top it off.
Did you know Quick Six is a series? Read our previous features:
- Quick Six with Carlos Duenas, lead mechanic at GE Aviation Flight Test Operations, located in Victorville, California.
- Quick Six with Bryne Berry, Environmental Barrier Coating Engineer at GE Aviation in Evendale, OH.
- Quick Six with Dale Hughes, Assembly & Test Technician in Durham, NC
- Quick Six with Terrance Brand, Staff Engineer for GE Aviation in Hooksett, NH.
- Quick Six with Flavio Caciuffo, engineer at GE Aviation business, Avio Aero.
- Quick Six with Phil Woniger, Senior Account Sales Manager, at GE Aviation in Savannah, Georgia.
- GE Aviation’s Quick Six with Mike Bonacum, T901 Technology Maturation Leader at GE Aviation in Lynn, MA.
- GE Aviation’s Quick Six with David Burns, CIO of GE Aviation in Cincinnati, Ohio.
- Quick Six with Mike Bonacum, a T901 Technology Maturation Leader at GE Aviation in Lynn, MA.
- Quick Six with Teresa Saint-Blancard, a customer program manager at GE Aviation in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Even as a GE retiree, I am inspired by your insightful words that have guided you since 3rd grade. Good lessons for life at all ages.