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GE Aviation’s Quick Six with Mike Bonacum

June 14, 2018
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 Mike Bonacum, a T901 Technology Maturation Leader at GE Aviation in Lynn, MA.

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

I have been in my current role for almost 3 years now.  In my role I lead the development of the advanced technologies we have included in the T901 to ensure that they are validated and ready for the field. This includes leading component performance rigs and working with our additive manufacturing and design teams to maximize the impact of the technology incorporation. I also interface with the Army to help our customer fully understand the technologies we’re incorporating in the engine and the efforts we’ve taken to mature them and reduce risk. Finally, I manage AVSPOT, a joint GE/NASA/Army program to develop technology for the next generation of rotorcraft.

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

I’m pretty sure I had “Aerospace Engineer” on my 7th grade “what do you want to be when you grow up” poster, meaning that A) I was a really cool middle-schooler and B) I’m definitely in the career I’ve always wanted. For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by flight and how things work. I was lucky enough to join the Edison Program right out of school, and since joining GE I’ve been able to focus on new products and developing the technologies that power them.

What motivates or inspires you to work hard?

One of my fraternity brothers is a Navy pilot who flies SH-60 Seahawks powered by T700-GE-401C engines. He relies on GE engines every day to help him execute his mission and defend The United States of America, which is incredibly humbling.  Also, knowing that I’m helping develop the engine that will replace the T700, and that it needs to uphold the same great legacy of that engine, provides tremendous motivation to go the extra mile to deliver for our customer.

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

One lesson that I quickly learned while working at GE is that I’m never the smartest person in the room and that it’s ok not to be.  We solve tough challenges, and the only way to do that successfully is to have great teams that rely on each other.  I’m blown away by the talent we have here in Aviation, and I try to learn something new every day.  My advice is to try and determine what unique skills you can bring to whatever problem or project you are a part of.  You may not be the expert on a topic but if you bring a new and different perspective, it will help maximize the talents of those around you, and you’ll be an incredibly valuable member of any team.

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

My favorite engine is the T901 because it’s the most advanced helicopter engine ever designed, and it’s going to offer some new and amazing capabilities for our customers. I drew a “cross section” since I’m focused on what’s on the inside of the engine that makes it perform.

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

Most people don’t know that I love to travel. Last summer I drove from Montana to LA, hitting Yellowstone, Glacier, and several other National Parks and attractions along the way. This summer I’m going to Portugal and Scotland.

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

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GE Aerospace is a world-leading provider of jet and turboprop engines, as well as integrated systems for commercial, military, business and general aviation aircraft.