Undergrad accepted to the prestigious GE Edison Engineering Development Program

young white male student at UWM
Senior Nick Birschbach inspects a kind of “Raspberry Pi,” a single-board computer that he has been using to investigate ways to increase the energy efficiency of processing artificial intelligence. “Here at UWM, they really help you get through the program without you feeling like you're lost,” he said.

Senior Nick Birschbach knew he wanted to study engineering and computing, but like many undergraduates, he wasn’t sure which of the many options to choose. To figure it out, he resolved to try as many experiences as possible in his journey to a UWM bachelor’s degree in computer engineering.

With his latest accomplishment, Birschbach gets to continue his “try it on” approach to career identification after graduation. He has been accepted into the two-year GE HealthCare Edison Engineering Development Program that will give him the opportunity to explore a variety of engineering roles in the company.

“I don’t really know what I want to do yet,” he said. “So, I’m hoping that, through this program and getting extra time to learn before setting myself on a specific career path, I can determine what I really want to focus on.”

William Dussault, teaching faculty in electrical engineering, describes the GE Edison program as the company’s nationwide talent search.

It consists of rotations, or eight-month stints, in various parts of the company, giving participants the chance to learn aspects of design and manufacturing, Dussault said. The program also includes coursework that will result in nine graduate credits for participants.

“They recruit from high-profile schools like MIT, Penn State, UW-Madison, Cornell and Georgia Tech,” Dussault said. “It’s a pretty big deal to get selected and Nick’s acceptance tells us that UWM produces the same caliber of engineers as those more expensive programs do.”

A desire to impact lives

Birschbach is excited about diving into the engineering behind GE HealthCare products, such as CT and MRI scanners, which produce highly detailed images of the inside of the body without invasive procedures.

“I’ve dealt with a lot of family members recently who were diagnosed with cancer and I think these machines are really important technologies that can save lives,” he said. “I’m excited to be able to use the skills I’ve learned here at UWM to pay it forward.”

Birschbach, who hails from Fond du Lac and graduates in May, completed two internships, conducted undergraduate research in assistant professor Roger Shen’s lab, was a campus ambassador from the College and joined a slew of student organizations. One of those was the UWM chapter of Engineers Without Borders that works to create potable water supplies for rural Guatemala.

Nick Birschbach lands a spot in GE HealthCare’s leadership training program.

Faculty and staff also opened doors

“UWM has helped me find my place in engineering in so many ways,” he said. “I’ve been able to be a part of many activities and also interact with so many amazing staff members, like those who gave me recommendations for the GE program, which really helped me get accepted.”

Adjunct Professor Jeffrey Kautzer is one of those staff who advised Birschbach. “As a student in electrical engineering, Nick was a clear standout with excellent technical design capabilities as well as polished communication skills,” said Kautzer, who is also chief electrical engineer at GE HealthCare. “We’re excited to have him on board and look forward to his future contributions.”

While the Edison Program promises some course credits toward a master’s degree, Birschbach has already gotten a jump-start on graduate school while still an undergraduate. He is enrolled in the College’s Accelerated Master’s (Integrated BS/MS) program which offers undergrads the chance to earn up to six credits toward a master’s degree without taking additional coursework.

“This is an amazing opportunity for UWM students,” Birschbach said, “because I get to take these master’s classes for the price of undergraduate courses.”