Renee, in the early 1980s, was probably not the first person one would have pegged as the poster girl for success, but that is certainly what she appears to be these days at her job in corporate research and development at General Electric, Niskayuna, NY.
Renee, a single mother of three young children with one on the way when she enrolled at Alfred State College, began her studies in the medical laboratory technology program, staying on for a third year to complete a second associate degree in chemical technology-a discipline which would lead her to-she hoped-a better- paying job to support her young family.
"The faculty at Alfred were extremely helpful and understanding while I was there," Renee notes.
Professors [Dave] Schwert, [John] Anderson, and [Roland] Hale were not only good teachers, according to Renee, but good advisers as well.
"And the late Mrs. Woughter [director of placement] is the one who alerted me to the opportunity at GE!" she notes with a smile.
"The courses I found most helpful, in retrospect, were the technical writing and speech courses I took while at Alfred," says this woman with the most scientific of minds.
Although she doesn't have training specific to the job she does-she is a process leader directing technicians in fabrication of baseline prototype multi-chip modules as well as a process interfacer with project leads and customers- GE was willing to hire a technician who could be trained to do what needed to be done.
"I'm extremely happy to be working in research and development," notes Renee. "We make electrical devices and are always building prototypes. It's challenging to apply what we know to resolve problems in the prototypes. I like the challenge," she laughs.
"I don't think I could have come this far without Alfred State College," Renee says. "In addition to the education I received, I also gained a tremendous amount of confidence" while at the college, she notes.
"When I started, I wasn't sure I could do it, but so many professors encouraged me, that when I did well, I realized I could do anything. If not for that, I don't believe I would be where I am today," says Renee.
And she is at the top of her game: Renee, who was a member of the team which worked on the fabrication of the microchips used in the Mars probe, was invited in January 1999 to view the launch of the Mars Polar Lander at Cape Kennedy.
Additionally, Renee has been honored with the GECRD (General Electric Corp. Research and Development) Whitney Technical Achievement Award for Microslice Probe (1996) and the Ultralightweight Power Converter (1996) and more recently the the Whitney Technical Achievement Award for Ultrasound Project (2000). The award is named for Willis Whitney, the first director of GE's corporate-level R&D efforts-no relation! This award recognizes technically excellent developments that have had a positive impact on a GE business.
Renee has also been a finalist in the Six Sigma Quality Initiative Contest-sigma being a metric used to reflect how well a process is working. The higher the sigma value, the less likely a process will produce defects. A sigma value of six represents near-perfect quality. Candidates for this award are judged on the impact their project has had on the GE businesses.
The company has also honored Renee with managerial awards in 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997,1998, 2000, and 2001. She is also a member of GE Elfun, a community service organization of 40,000 GE employees and retirees in more than 90 communities worldwide. Satisfaction with her career is the hallmark of true success. Renee Whitney exemplifies the word.