AS I MADE my way into the campus, after the security checks, I was briefed on the itinerary that was to follow: “This is more than a company, this is about a culture of excellence. Even in the one year that I have been here, I have seen that,” says Garima Varma, communications chief of the center. The 50-acre campus is richly adorned with greenery and buildings with creative names such as Pioneer, Pathfinder, Voyager, Cassini, Galileo and Odyssey. Among these buildings is a gorgeous pond and an open air cafeteria as testimony to the world class facility.
Multi disciplinary research…
GE’s John F. Welch Technology Center has been in existence since September 2000. It is a state-of-the-art facility that includes world class research in mechanical engineering, electronics and electrical system technology, ceramics and metallurgy, catalysis and advanced chemistry, chemical engineering and process, polymer science and new synthetic materials, process modeling and simulation, power electronics and analysis technologies. The center collaborates with the other three GE research facilities across the world in New York, Munich and Shanghai. From its inception till date on account of the work undertaken at the center, more than 1600 patents have been filed on behalf of and at the directions of General Electric Company and its affiliates. Over 400 patents have been granted so far.
The center is home to GE Energy, GE Aviation, GE Healthcare, GE Transportation and GE Global Research. The entire facility employs more than 4000 employees.
“Innovating and the ability to take invention into the market is one of the important qualities that we have,” says Dr. Gopichand Katragadda, Managing Director, John F. Welch Technology Center. His first floor office in the magnificent Pathfinder building is modern and well-equipped. I was struck by the exuberance and energy he offers to the organization: “We look at the people, the processes and the customers. Processes are streamlined by Six Sigma which has been completely implemented in the campus,” he said. “We ensure that this center is an idea-rich environment. Hierarchy is not encouraged here; anyone can come up with ideas to me or anyone in the organization,” he said.
This sense of democratization of ideas seems to be one of the fundamental pillars of the success of this technology center. At every stage of my interactions in the campus, there was a deep sense of yearning for ideas and debate over ideas.