By Eric RuthPhoto by Evan Krape
Consider the humble coffee cup. Its simple duties conceal a deceptively formidable character: The ceramic it is made of is harder than steel, and the scalding liquids it holds never seem to do it much harm.
Now imagine a roaring, flaming jet engine — possibly the pinnacle of 20th century power plant engineering — and try to envision what a touch of ceramics might do to make it even better.
A young and blade-sharp group of University of Delaware engineering graduates are doing just that at the Newark-based outpost of GE Aviation, which has been working for years to incorporate ceramic parts into the next generation of massive jetliner power plants. Through countless calculations, ceaseless tests and constant refinement, the four Blue Hens are pushing the final phase of GE’s quest to completion — not too many years after they won their UD mechanical engineering degrees.
Meeting these men, it’s tempting for an older outsider to wonder at how they could be pushing technological boundaries at such an age. One is a mere 24, the others are not too far past that. Yet they speak with a maturity and commitment beyond their years; possess a steady-handed confidence forged in these high-temperature, high-pressure labs.
They know what they are working on is revolutionary. And it amazes them every day that they are the ones working on it.
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