Finding talent amidst the constantly evolving digital transformation of the supply chain world can be an issue for world-class companies like Louisville’s own GE Appliances. But thanks to the robust partnership with Speed School Engineering, GE is tapping into Speed School talent for its needs.
Alumnus Collie Crawford (BSEE ’18, MEng IE ’19) has the distinction of being the first graduate of GE’s newest workforce development program, Industry 4.0 Development program, or I4DP. The two-year program was created in 2019 to address a growing business need – a stable of technical engineering talent with the depth and breadth of Industry 4.0 skills that can support GEA’s smart factories. The four hands-on rotations for I4DP include highly-specialized, in-class training in industrial controls, robotics, testing and data visualization.
While Crawford had previous co-op and industry experience in controls, he was intrigued by the opportunity to learn more about the other three areas.
“I loved learning from the engineers during my rotations and finding new applications and ways to do things,” he said.
Trenton Ingrim, senior director of Advanced Manufacturing of the program, also a Speed School graduate (EE ’95, MEng EE ’98), said Crawford has been “fantastic.”
“His structured and logical approach to the work is a credit to him – plus he can definitely see the connections between systems,” Ingram said. “Completing the program, we want them to understand how a smart, interconnected factory works, and identify what they like most and feel the strongest about as they look for their first assignment off program.”
For Crawford, that first assignment has been taking a controls engineering position in dishwasher manufacturing and hitting the ground running.
He said Speed School established a solid foundation that helped him to pursue his career goals.
“I enjoyed the capabilities the co-op program gives you to go out in the field while also learning in school, and applying your problem solving skills while also learning some parts of the trade that are more technical,” he said.
Crawford also cited the Capstone course as a continuing influence.
“It was a really good course that held us to the fire of doing everything properly, and it was a great experience there that I still use frequently,” he said.
In addition to Crawford, the program’s first graduate, two other current I4DP participants, Lana Chausenko (CSE ’17) and Jordan Klotz (EE ’18, MEng EE ’19) are Speed School alumni.
Chausenko said I4DP was an amazing opportunity she couldn’t pass up, and it included robotics, which she said she fell in love with after taking classes with Dan Popa at Speed School. But for her, the program also offered a way to understand operations from a macro view.
“I’ve always thought before you start your main position, that understanding the system and how it all works together is very important, to get all the perspectives,” she said. “That’s what I’m experiencing right now.”
For Jordan Klotz, the master’s program at Speed School was the most valuable experience to prepare him for his future career path.
“The opportunity to work in a lab at UofL was wonderful,” he said. “It was one of the most diverse places I’ve ever worked, with some of the smartest people I’ve ever met from all over the world – China, India, Romania, everywhere. The professors at UofL are top minds in their field and great teachers. That is one of the strengths of Speed School and one of the things that helped me the most – getting involved and asking the right questions.”
Trent Ingrim said Speed School talent has been instrumental for GE Appliances.
“In the Industry 4.0 program, three of the four assignment leaders for the participants graduated from UofL,” he said.
“It’s easy to get excited about the bells and whistles, the machine learning, the AI,” said Ingram. “But we need people who can understand the fundamental building blocks and different components – what they are – what they do – and how to put them together,” said Ingrim. “It’s a good partnership with Speed School and I look forward to what the future holds.”