Fifty Virginia Tech business and engineering students recently participated in the 11th Annual General Electric Leadership Conference Jan. 23-24, giving them the opportunity to develop team building and leadership skills essential for future employment. The highly selective conference garners approximately 200 applications each year.

Virginia Tech is the only university associated with General Electric (GE) for whom the company sponsors an annual leadership conference. For 11 years, GE has made a considerable investment in the leadership conference program that has become a stepping-stone for many Virginia Tech students for internships, co-op positions, and full-time employment with GE.

"Corporate-sponsored student leadership programs such as GE's support our mission to help students develop and refine their leadership and teamwork skills, which are so important to career success today," said Richard E. Sorensen, dean of the Pamplin College of Business. "Our college offers students a variety of experiential learning opportunities to enrich their education and we are very appreciative of GE's longstanding interest and support."

"Leadership is an essential skill as our students move into the professional world," said Hassan Aref, dean of the College of Engineering. "Programs such as GE's student leadership conference provide our students with an opportunity to hone their leadership ability while at the same time showcasing their skills and learning about one of the leading companies in the world."

"The conference is valuable to GE because we are able to learn more about the students than is possible in other forums," said Charles "Chip" Blankenship ('88, Engineering), general manager of Small Commercial Engine Operations for GE and campus liaison for Virginia Tech. "It guides us toward those that might find success at GE, and it also helps the students learn more about GE."

GE has a long history of innovation dating back to 1879 when Thomas Edison made the world a brighter place through his invention of the light bulb. Edison established Edison Electric Light Company in 1878, and in 1892, a merger of Edison General Electric Company and Thomson-Houston Electric Company created General Electric Company. Since then, GE has grown as a company that has impacted the industries of power generation, flight, and medicine.