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Teenagers fail to link technology and engineers

ELE provides Turbine Blade machining services to its customers and we are always looking on how we can attract the next generation of Engineers.

This article appears on the Institute of Mechanical Engineers website

Research from Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering shows UK teenagers are keen on tech but not so keen on difficult engineering degrees

Research from the QE Prize for Engineering has highlighted the gap between teenager’s perceptions of technology, and awareness of the role engineers play in its development.

According to the survey by the QE Prize for Engineering, 85% of 16-17 year olds are interested in technology such as smartphones and computers, yet only 21% are interested in a career as an engineer.

The figures for 16-17 year olds were released as the government launched this year’s National Apprenticeship Week with a drive to promote the value of apprentices to companies.

The QE Prize survey results, which compares perceptions of engineering in the UK against those in other countries, are from the Create the Future report. Around a thousand people were questioned from ten countries for the report.

Although UK teenagers’ interest outstrips that of young people in Germany, Japan and South Korea, specific interest in engineering falls below all the other countries surveyed.

Sir Christopher Snowden, chairman of the QE Prize judging panel and vice-chancellor of the University of Southampton said: “We need to do more to educate people on the role engineering plays in technology and help young people understand that technology is a product of engineering.

“The challenge facing the engineering community is to shift the love of tech to a love of engineering. There is no silver bullet solution to this issue, but if we work together as parents, teachers, companies, institutions and even governments, then we will see a change in attitudes and debunk the myths surrounding our profession.”

According to the QE Prize, the report shows the complex attitudes young people have towards engineering and their chances of breaking into the profession. Half of the UK teenagers questioned were optimistic that engineering can address issues such as depleting energy resources in in the next 20 years.

However, around 30% of potential engineers were put off the career as they felt an engineering degree was too hard, too expensive and that they lacked adequate funding for training.

GE and Alstom – a shared vision

GE acquired the power and grid business of the engineering company Alstom on Monday, creating a new global industrial powerhouse. The ink on the deal is still fresh, but it isn’t the first time the two companies have met. In fact, they both sprung from the same roots.

GE came to be in 1892, when New York financier J.P. Morgan organized a merger of equals between Thomas Edison’s Edison General Electric Company and Elihu Thomson’s Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form GE. Thomson-Houston’s top executive, Charles A. Coffin, became GE’s first president.

Albumen photograph print of inventor and electrical prioneer Elihu Thomson. Thomson's early work with dynamos, arc lamps, and alternating-current power made him one of the top inventors of the late 19th century. His Thomson-Houston company merged with the Edison General Electric Company in 1892 to form General Electric.

Like Edison, Thomson was a tinkerer and inventor from an early age. “Having worked, at eleven years of age and on, with electrical apparatus, generally of my own construction, it was natural that I should have acquired an intense interest in all advances in electrical science and its applications,” Thomson wrote in a letter. His interest was so intense, in fact, that his name still survives – albeit in a slightly altered form – as the last three letters in Alstom’s name.

A65011 Thomson Houston Central Station, Boston 1884057

Even before the merger, both Edison and Thomson were keen on exporting their products but were running into legal barriers. “In the case of foreign companies notably the French Company…everything without exception must be manufactured in France so as to conform to the French patent law,” the Edison Bulletin reported about Edison’s French subsidiary in June 1882.

To overcome the opposition, Thomson-Houston incorporated in France a group with the ungainly name of Companie Francaise de L’Exploitation des Procedes Thomson-Houston (CFTH) and in 1893 GE gave it “exclusive rights in all lines of electrical products and systems in France,” according to GE’s historical business review.

463997 Thomson Houston plant 1895 or 1898

In 1928, CFTH combined with France’s Sociéte Alsacienne de Constructions Mécaniques to create Alstom – or Alsthom, as it was then known – to become a major builder of power plant and other heavy technology.

The business was headquartered in Belfort, France. In 1959, GE gave Alstom rights to manufacture gas turbines there, and then bought back the business in 1998.

200511 Paris Orleans Railway Station, 1903

GE still makes turbines in Belfort, including the 9HA, aka “Harriet”, the world’s largest and most efficient gas turbine.

Thomson was born in England in 1853 but moved to America as a boy. When he was 11, he became so fascinated with electricity that he built an electrical machine out of a wine bottle. “I got my first view of electric sparks from that machine, my first knowledge of electricity from that machine,” Thomson told a biographer.

After graduation from high school, he taught science and became a professor at the age of 23. In 1880, he and his high school colleague Edwin Houston started a business selling arc lamp systems. They were so successful that a decade later their company rivaled Edison and Westinghouse Electric Co.

After the merger with Edison, Thomson became GE’s chief engineer and encouraged the company to establish a research laboratory in Schenectady, NY. The lab became GE Global Research.

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 12.10.27 PM

Over his career, Thomson made pioneering contributions to the development of alternating current systems, dynamos, electric streetlights and railroads, x-rays and other technologies. He received more than 700 patents.

Today, scientists at the lab he started are developing software that connects machines to the Industrial Internet, advanced manufacturing methods like 3D printing, and supermaterials such as ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), which are already flying inside jet engines.

“The historical narrative of electrical events in the pioneer days,” Thomson wrote,” carry me back in retrospection to the time when I first began to see that the electrical applications must have a great future and especially that electric illumination would probably be the earliest development on a large scale.”


This is an article from GE Reports

Alstom Accepts GE’s Updated Offer

Alstom’s board of directors accepted GE’s updated offer to acquire the power and grid businesses of the French industrial group for $13.5 billion (€12.35 billion) on Saturday. The deal includes three joint-ventures: in grid technology, renewable energy, and global nuclear power and French steam power.

The acquisition, the largest in GE’s history, will create 1,000 new jobs in France, preserve local decision making, provide the French government with access to nuclear steam turbine technology and support Alstom’s train signaling business.

“We will now move to the next phase of the Alstom alliance,” Jeff Immelt, GE chairman and CEO said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the Alstom team to make a globally competitive power and grid enterprise. We also look forward to working with the French government, employees and shareholders of Alstom.”


Alstom CEO Patrick Kron (left), French Minister of Economy Arnaud Montebourg (center) and Jeff Immelt, GE chairman and CEO, at the signing of the acquisition on Saturday.

Immelt said the acquisition preserved the value of the original April 30 offer for investors. “Our synergies remain intact. It is immediately accretive to our earnings, furthers the transition of our portfolio towards industrial businesses, and broadens our product and service offerings for customers,” he said.

The joint ventures will lower GE’s projected earnings per share from the transaction by approximately $0.01-$0.02 per year. EPS from the deal was initially projected at $0.08-$0.10 per year. Overall, GE still expects $1.2 billion in synergies from the transaction by year five.

“If this was Hearts, Jeff shot the moon,” said Nicholas Heymann, an analyst at William Blair & Co., told Bloomberg. “He got 90 percent of what he was shooting for, but he also made sure the business wasn’t locked and inaccessible for life between the company’s principal competitors.”

Alstom and GE will continue operating as two separate companies until the acquisition closes in 2015.


Under the new structure, GE will acquire the power and grid businesses of Alstom, as previously announced on April 30. Once closed, GE and Alstom would form three joint ventures.

One will create a global grid business based in France by combining GE’s and Alstom’s grid assets. The second will form a renewable energy company based in France, consisting of Alstom’s offshore wind and hydroelectric units.

GE and Alstom will also create a global nuclear and French steam Alliance to assure the security and growth of nuclear steam technology for France. This will include Alstom’s production and servicing of equipment for nuclear power plants, and development and sales of new nuclear equipment around the world. The alliance will also cover Alstom’s steam turbine equipment and servicing for applications in France.


The alliance will be an equal partnership between GE and Alstom, with the French government holding a preferred share giving it veto and other governance rights over issues related to security and technology of nuclear plants.

In addition, the intellectual property related to Alstom’s Arabelle nuclear steam turbine technology will be transferred to a special purpose vehicle wholly owned by the French government, which will allow the government to license the technology to third parties if GE were not to supply Arabelle technology to an EDF/Areva nuclear project.


GE has also made a long-term commitment to ongoing development of the Arabelle technology and servicing of the EDF installed nuclear base.

GE and Alstom have also signed a memorandum of understanding to create a global alliance in transportation, and GE will sell its rail signaling business to Alstom.


Finally, GE has committed to create 1,000 new jobs in France over the next three years. They will be located in high-value areas such as manufacturing and engineering. This goal will be enforced through an independent auditor and financial penalties.

The grid, offshore wind, hydroelectric, and steam turbines businesses will have headquarters in France. GE’s European power headquarters have been in Belfort since 1999.


GIF Sequence: Made in France: GE manufactured the world’s largest and most efficient gas turbine, the 9HA, at its plant in Belfort, France. The turbine recently traveled by truck, ship, boat, and rail to GE Power & Water’s plant in Greenville, South Carolina, for a year of rigorous testing. 


This article was published by GE REPORTS on 23rd June 2014

Siemens and Mitsubishi bid to acquire Alstom

Siemens of Germany and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan on Monday jointly offered to buy parts of France’s Alstom and start a long-term partnership, a move that could derail a competing bid by General Electric.

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This article was published by the Guardian on 16th June 2014

Siemens said it was offering €3.9bn (£3.1bn) to acquire Alstom’s entire gas business, including related service contracts. Mitsubishi would buy a 10% stake in Alstom and inject €3.1bn into the struggling company.

Alstom already has a £10bn offer on the table from GE for its energy operations, but the French government has been cool to the idea of a buyout of the company that pioneered TGV high-speed trains, later exporting them around the world, and which builds nuclear turbines.

Siemens and Mitsubishi promised their proposal would “preserve Alstom’s current perimeter in almost all its activities, enhance its industrial sustainability, strengthen its position as a diversified global player in energy and transport, and strengthen its financial structure, while remaining a major French listed group”.

Alstom said in a statement that the chiefs of Siemens and Mitsubishi outlined the proposal for Alstom’s energy activities in a meeting on Monday on Monday with Alstom chief executive, Patrick Kron, and Jean-Martin Folz, who heads a committee evaluating the offers.President Francois Hollande, who has said GE’s offer is not good enough, is to meet the Siemens and Mitsubishi chief executiveson Tuesday to discuss their offer. While the French government finds GE appealing because of its long presence in France, it has tried to get other potential suitors for a company considered strategic because of its footprint on the energy and transport sectors.

A ranking French official said in April that the French priority in all matters is jobs, energy independence and keeping companies on French soil.

In addition to the cash transaction, Siemens said it would offer job guarantees for three years in France and Germany for the transferred business, and would establish its European headquarters for the combined gas service business in France. Siemens also indicated that, following the closing of the deal, it would eventually “be prepared to become a long-term anchor shareholder in a combined transport business”.

Siemens has 359,000 employees worldwide and makes everything from gas- and wind-powered turbines to trains, medical imaging devices, factory machines and security equipment.

Mitsubishi Heavy is Japan’s largest heavy machinery maker with $32bn in annual revenues. It produces ships, engines, nuclear power plants and arms for Japan’s defence ministry.

Meanwhile, GE began an ad campaign – “Tomorrow will be Made in France” – in a bid to address concerns that the country could lose a strategic company with its offer. The full-page ad in French newspapers refers repeatedly to “our alliance” and says besides the 1,000 new jobs to be created as part of the offer, “thousands of indirect jobs” would be generated. Alstom is to make a decision about where its future lies in a week.