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Lifting Up Communities: GE Aerospace Foundation Launches with New $22 Million Commitment to Next Engineers, Workforce Development, and Disaster Relief

May 02, 2024 | by Dianna Delling

When Nigel Adjei-Mensah starts his engineering studies at the University of Cincinnati this fall, he’ll do so with a sense of direction and goals he developed while meeting and working with professional mentors. A senior at Princeton High School in Cincinnati, Adjei-Mensah participates in the Next Engineers Engineering Academy, a three-year college readiness program for STEM students that includes immersive design challenges and career coaching by GE Aerospace employees. 

Next Engineers will also help cover the cost of college for Adjei-Mensah, because graduates of the program who go on to pursue an engineering degree at an institution of higher education receive a scholarship. “The program has opened me up to a lot more options, so I’m not as tunnel-visioned,” he says. “We get to learn a lot of different things that engineers do over the course of their day. They’re able to give us tips and tricks on how we can be better engineers — not just now, but in the future as well.” 

He also values the open-mindedness and diversity that Next Engineers aims to foster. “I feel like more diversity means bringing in people of different genders and cultures and ethnicities, because people from different backgrounds will have different ideas and different viewpoints,” he adds. “Over time, I feel like that increase of diversity in engineering will grow into more change and innovation in the field.”

A GE Aerospace volunteer.

Adjei-Mensah is one of nearly 18,000 middle and high school students in the U.S., the United Kingdom, and South Africa who’ve participated in Next Engineers since the initiative was launched in 2021. And thousands more will follow in his footsteps, thanks to an additional $20 million commitment from the GE Aerospace Foundation that will expand the program through 2030. The GE Aerospace Foundation officially launched on May 2, and will build on the more than 100-year legacy of the GE Foundation.

“I am proud that we are expanding Next Engineers to inspire the next generation of engineers and innovators, wherever their careers take them,” says Christian Meisner, chief human resources officer at GE Aerospace. “It’s one of many efforts we are funding through the new GE Aerospace Foundation.” 

In addition to its commitment for Next Engineers, the GE Aerospace Foundation has pledged $2 million for workforce development programs to help address the considerable need for highly skilled manufacturing roles. This includes a $1 million grant for a new partnership with United Way of Greater Cincinnati that will coordinate vocational, trade, and technical education and training programs throughout the metropolitan area.

“With demands on the global workforce increasing and competition for talent at an all-time high, we need to support the next generation so our world can meet the demands for skilled talent and diverse thinking,” Meisner says.

Lorrie Craig, a welder who works at GE Aerospace, says that workforce development programs have had a significant and positive effect on her education. Craig completed a vocational training program during her last two years of high school, learning welding skills that have paved the way for a successful and satisfying career. She encourages students and adults seeking new job opportunities to consider vocational training programs.

Workforce development at GE Aerospace.

“There are so many opportunities out there for young people if college is not for them,” she says, pointing out that vocational education can be more affordable, requires less time to complete, and prepares people well for high-demand positions. “So many facilities need welders and are hiring all the time,” she adds. “Someone with an education and exposure to the different types of welding could do it all.”

The GE Aerospace Foundation will also continue to support workforce development through the Advanced Manufacturing Training and Expansion Program (AMTEP), which is building a more diverse, sustainable, and ready-to-work pipeline across the North Shore region of Massachusetts. To date, there is an 84% job placement rate for AMTEP graduates.

“Through the GE Aerospace Foundation, we are continuing a century-long legacy of making a positive impact on our communities around the world,” says GE Aerospace Foundation President Meghan Thurlow. “This impact is felt not just in the programs we fund but in the time our employees devote to local efforts year in and year out, whether volunteering their expertise or just lending a hand.”

Airlink, a global humanitarian organization that airlifts critical aid to communities in crisis

To that end, the GE Aerospace Foundation will continue to fund disaster relief, including a new $1 million grant for Airlink, a global humanitarian organization that airlifts critical aid to communities in crisis. And it will maintain its commitment to amplifying employee efforts through its Matching Gift program and the STAR awards, which provide competitive scholarships to children of eligible employees all around the world.

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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.