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GE Energy’s Chief Engineer Urges Students to Embrace Changing World & Technological Landscape
August 22, 2011
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology mechanical engineering
alumnus Ralph Kirkpatrick wrapped up the 2011 James R. Baumgardt
Distinguished Speaker Series at Rose-Hulman Ventures by encouraging
students, faculty, staff members and alumni to embrace change.
Kirkpatrick, a 1974 graduate, is vice president and chief
engineer of General Electric Energy. He has six U.S.
Change, according to Kirkpatrick, is inevitable and those who
learn to accept it will succeed.
"If you embrace [change], it will benefit you. If you
resist it, you'll be frustrated and it will hinder you," he
In his career, Kirkpatrick has observed changes in consumer
demands and the marketplace in general as globalization and
environmental awareness have transformed the way corporations do
"The world is demanding more and better products, which must be
more efficient and more environmentally friendly," he said.
"It's a global world and the market is now the world," he
In the energy industry, Kirkpatrick commented that the area of
renewable energy technology needs further
"I think storage systems are a technology that that has to
evolve," he said about storing energy generated by renewable
Kirkpatrick impressed upon the audience that engineers need a
solid basis from which to approach today's new technologies and
challenges. Companies, he explained, "need the best technical
talent grounded in the fundamentals."
Students need to be prepared to embark on career paths that may
take them into subject areas with which they're not entirely
familiar, according to Kirkpatrick. Also, students need to
keep an open mind when opportunities present themselves, but must
consider carefully if those opportunities align with personal goals
"There is no right career path," he said, "target what you love,
work hard and deliver results."
Pointing to the success of Rose-Hulman graduates in
non-engineering careers, Kirkpatrick added, "Engineering is an
excellent foundation for almost anything you do."