Technology this dad helped engineer as an intern just cared for his newborn baby nine years later (at the hospital powered by the energy turbines he now works on)
In 2006, Nick was a junior working towards his engineering degree and an intern with GE Healthcare. During his internship, he helped create one of the first versions of the Panda Warmer, a special bed designed to keep healthy babies healthy and to help premature babies get better. It was the first Panda Bed with radiant heat, which keeps the baby warm without overheating the caregiver, an important feature for nurses who provide vital care in the baby’s first few days while the mom recovers.
Nick’s role was to ensure the technology would last and provide the best of care no matter the situation by creating and executing verification and reliability testing.
Nick knew the technology would impact millions of babies being brought into the world and their families, but he never thought he might be testing technology he would one day see used for his own family.
“I never imagined I was testing a product that might be used for my own child one day,” he says. “I was still in college. We didn’t think about that kind of stuff. It never crossed my mind.”
But after his internship, while in the Edison Engineering Development Program (EEDP), Nick met Blair, a fellow EEDP at GE Healthcare. It wasn’t long before they were married. A few years after, they both moved from GE Healthcare to GE Power and Water, to engineer heavy duty gas turbines. They weren’t sure they would see the healthcare technology they had both worked on again.
Until this year. Nine years after Nick’s internship, nine years after he tested the Panda Warmer to ensure it would keep healthy babies healthy, Nick was in a hospital labor and delivery ward of St. Francis Health System in Greenville, South Carolina, as his wife gave birth to their first child. As Blair was recovering in the delivery room, the care team took the newborn healthy baby boy to a familiar looking bed for newborns to ensure he would stay warm as he was cleaned, a bed Nick knew had uniform heat and reliable hardware, a bed that wouldn’t break even if a gurney ran into it. It was The Panda warmer.
“I felt at ease knowing all of the features we had added and tested to the bed had to keep the baby safe and warm in that moment,” Nick says. “Luckily, none of the alarms went off, but it was nice to know they were there.”
“It was a really good experience,” Nick’s wife, Blair, says. “Actually we did a walkthrough of the hospital when we were choosing where to deliver. When we saw the GE Panda Warmers, we knew that they would have the best technology available. It wasn’t the only factor, but it was a factor.”
But the Panda Warmer at St. Francis isn’t the only technology he worked on that may be helping the hospital. The heavy duty gas turbines he now helps to engineer at GE Power & Water help to power the hospital, and many other utilities in Greenville.