Shuying Zhen would like to change the world for the better. As an early-career professional stuck at home during the pandemic, she’s already worked on one project - an affordable and easily manufactured ventilator - to relieve sick people from the effects of COVID-19. And now, as a GE Renewable Energy Edison Engineer, she has the chance to make an even bigger impact on the world around her.
“My goal is to apply technical theory to help solve the most pressing challenges in the world,” she said. “I want to work to help solve the climate crisis and improve the lives of everyone. Through engineering, I can apply theories and create broader, larger scale solutions that can improve the world.”
As part of GE’s Grid Solutions’ Digital Energy Innovation Lab, Shuying is working on microgrid and device management projects. “My main focus is on delivering on customer commitments and supporting the initiatives that the Digital Energy Innovation Lab is developing,” she explained. “I’m working with the core team to innovate customized solutions for utilities as they integrate more renewable energy into the grid.”
Shuying’s family immigrated to California from China when she was just 10 years old. At school she was drawn to the theories associated with engineering in her high school math and science classes.
At Smith College in Massachusetts, which is a private liberal arts women's college, Shuying felt empowered and inspired to pursue the male-dominated - and seemingly intimidating - field of engineering. She spent one summer as an intern at what was then GE Oil & Gas, then spent the next summer working with the University of Tennessee on a microgrid project. She double majored in engineering science and Spanish with a concentration on translation studies (in addition to English, she speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, and “a little” Portuguese).
After graduation in 2019, Shuying entered GE’s Edison Engineering Development Program (EEDP). The company’s largest leadership program, EEDP offers recent graduates the opportunity to develop professionally while gaining technical expertise in their chosen field and expanding their skills in new domains. The program varies by GE business and can last two to three years.
“One of the best parts about being in the Edison program is joining an inspiring group of engineers who are also starting out on their careers,” said Shuying, who recently moved to Melbourne, Florida, to work with GE’s Grid Solutions business. “It’s incredibly rare to have a built-in support network as an entry-level engineer in a new city! Moving during a pandemic to a new city to a role that will really stretch my abilities … that is challenging, but so rewarding.”
And what about that ventilator project?
Stuck at home last year during the pandemic, Shuying worked with a group of Smith College alumni on a contest sponsored by a team of anesthesiologists from Massachusetts General Hospital to design an affordable and easy-to-manufacture ventilator. “We worked in five-day sprints for two months and won first place out of 200 submissions,” Shuying said. “Also very cool was reconnecting with some of the alums in our program. There are so many inspiring and empowering women who are contributing their engineering skills to solve this crisis.”
She believes more women and minorities should choose to go into engineering. “We are underrepresented, and yet our diverse perspectives can help create more inclusive solutions that will benefit everyone.”