Under 30 and Rising: ‘If I don’t know something, I am driven to learn about it’
Baris Kavas dreamed of being an astronaut or an astrophysicist when he was a child. Today, he’s not traveling into space, but he is very much at the frontiers of science, working to advance high-tech 3D printing for GE Aviation’s aircraft engines at the Turkish Additive Research Laboratory.
Given the extreme heat and pressure found inside these engines, Baris is helping develop ways to use additive manufacturing to print parts that are lighter and higher performing, thereby helping engines, and aviation more generally, have a smaller environmental footprint.
What’s more, he uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to make sure the processes being developed are printing parts that meet the quality and specifications required.
This combination of work done on the computer using software and AI, and in the lab inspecting printed parts is one of the things Baris enjoys about his job. “My work requires a lot of theoretical understanding, but I also get to work hands-on in the lab examining the parts being printed to check if they turned out as designed.”
He’s also excited by the technology he is working with and the promise it offers in many sectors. Additive manufacturing “is a technology that, at some point, will allow you to manufacture parts wherever you want – in space or in a remote corner of the world. It’s bringing a cultural change to the whole manufacturing process and supply chain.”
He brings a strong understanding of materials science, which he learned at university, while his knowledge of aircraft engines was hard earned during his first year at GE. He was selected to participate in the Edison Engineering Development Program, which accelerates professional and technical development through advanced engineering coursework, mentoring, leadership training, and other development opportunities.
“That was a really hard, tough, tiring period that lasted about a year and was a really steep learning curve,” he said. In addition to his full-time job, he had take-home coursework assignments that took an additional 20-30 hours. “It was sometimes almost overwhelming, but helped a lot in my development as an engineer.”
Nevertheless, he was motivated to succeed because of his love of learning. “I would watch documentaries as a child, excited to learn, and the learning I was doing in the Edison program gave me the same excitement as watching those documentaries.”
Baris identifies his curiosity as one reason for his success: “If I don’t know something, I am driven to learn about it.” So it’s lucky he works at GE Aviation, which has been building aircraft engines for more than 100 years. As his first GE manager told him, the company is “an enormous storehouse of knowledge. There’s a lot to learn from GE Aviation’s people and resources.” As well, Baris adds, “it has a very good culture of sharing knowledge, so I was and am able to ask questions all the time.”