Alumna Profile: Jeanne Rosario
The Sky's the Limit
By Deb Case
Every two seconds, a GE-powered aircraft takes off somewhere in the world. For Jeanne Rosario (BSE ME '75), vice president and general manager of Engineering at GE Aviation, and her organization of more than 5,000 engineers, this accomplishment demonstrates their unwavering commitment to quality and safety in designing and building the world's best aircraft engines.
Rosario's path to the aerospace industry and an engineering career was an unusual choice for a woman in the mid-1970s. In fact, the Ann Arbor native said while she did well in math and science, she hadn't considered an engineering major until she visited the University of Michigan.
"During the visit, a counselor encouraged me to enroll in the College of Engineering," said Rosario. "After a few courses, I realized engineering was a natural fit. My degree opened up a variety of opportunities and provided a strong foundation upon which I could build my career."
The aerospace industry proved to be another good fit. When Rosario saw the size of and cutting-edge technologies in the engines, she quickly recognized almost every engineering discipline would be required to create a successful product and she jumped at the offer to work on the sophisticated products at GE Aviation's headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Through her first six years, she progressed through various engineering roles on many engine platforms. Then Rosario blazed a new trail - flexible work arrangements - with the birth of the first of her two daughters.
"At that time, companies did not have formal flexible work programs. I assumed I would leave the company once my maternity leave ended.
Instead, GE offered me a part-time role, and I worked flexible work schedules for the next eight years. The company's innovative approach to balancing work and home life commitments worked well for me, and now GE offers this flexibility to all its employees."
Rosario credits her managers with providing tough, challenging, part-time positions where she could take risks and learn new skills during those eight years. Those assignments enabled her to accelerate her career when she returned to work full-time. In 2005, she took on her current role, leading GE Aviation's engineering team with the oversight of a $1.5 billion research-and-development budget and new product development that is critical to the business's future.
The University of Michigan is playing a significant role in GE Aviation today. More than 300 University of Michigan alumni and co-ops are involved in the design, manufacture and service of commercial, military, marine and industrial engines for a variety of applications. The University also has a five-year, $5-million GE research grant focused on combustion, aeromechanics and manufacturing technologies and material science.
"We're about halfway through the grant, and we are extremely pleased with the results," explained Rosario. "The research is tailored to the key needs of our business, and we look forward to incorporating the learning into our future products."
GE Aviation has also proposed a project with the Tauber Institute for Global Operations. Sponsored by Rosario with support from Kristen Neubauer (BSE IOE '05, MSE '06), the project allows students with master's degrees in engineering and business to work on improving repair processes for a GE Aviation Service facility. The students' improvements would be presented at the Tauber Spotlight! competition in September. Rosario and Neubauer are confident the project will allow students to better understand real-world problems that GE faces and give GE fresh ideas about process improvements.
While Rosario's job is extremely challenging, she still enjoys sharing her passion for aerospace with University of Michigan students. In fact,
Neubauer credits Jeanne with recruiting her to GE.
"I was struggling with my decision about what job offer to accept when I heard Jeanne speak on campus," said Neubauer. "She mentioned she woke up eager to go to work each morning because she worked with the smartest, most dedicated people who solve some of the world's most difficult problems every day. After talking with her after the event, I decided GE might be the right company for me, too, and I accepted the offer. Jeanne became my mentor and she has been an unbelievable champion for me."
"Aviation been a great career for me, and it remains a fast-moving, innovative field today," said Rosario. "A vast array of career opportunities - from sales and marketing to product support and services to design and product development - are available to engineering graduates. The sky is truly the limit for these students, and I encourage them to aim high." - E