In his own words: Eric Butterfield, GE engineering manager
Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about your company and the duties of your position.
Eric Butterfield: I have been with GE for over 20 years in various technology leadership positions. I was recently brought in as the technology leader and executive engineering manager for GE Bently Nevada in Minden. Bently Nevada provides monitoring, diagnostic and protection solutions for rotating equipment and supports both OEMs and large equipment operator’s needs. At Bently we provide our customers with the complete package of sensors, hardware, electronics and software that allows them to operate their equipment safely and more optimally manage the asset over its life. It’s analogous to healthcare for rotating equipment. We have about 400 engineers supporting our technology. It’s a great business with a long history of robust products and technical innovations.
NNBW: How did you get into this profession?
Butterfield: I decided I wanted to be an engineer and work in technology early in my life. My Dad was in the Army, and I met some engineers. They knew everything and got to work on really cool stuff. I was sold.
NNBW: What’s the most important thing you have learned in your career?
Butterfield: You must never stop learning. You really don’t know what you don’t know. I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with some of best and brightest people in the world.
NNBW: What’s changed about your job over the years?
Butterfield: Technology and information is moving faster and faster. I remember I was one of the first employees to receive a luggable computer (aka laptop) and a beeper. Now I have text, email, phone and data feeds coming into my pocket device that has more computer horsepower than any Apollo spacecraft.
NNBW: What was your first job?
Butterfield: I sold programs at a five-eights-mile dirt race track when I was 12. I was compensated with a free program, a meal and cost of admission.
NNBW: Tell us about your dream job. Why aren’t you working it?
Butterfield: I am living the dream, working on technology in South Lake Tahoe. Does it get any better?
NNBW: Have any advice for someone who wants to enter your profession?
Butterfield: Study … but also make sure you get your hands dirty. Try building things, tearing stuff apart, writing software, welding… whatever you can.
NNBW: Tell me about the most fun you have had on the job.
Butterfield: I had a lot of fun over the years, maybe the time I commissioned and fired up a 600-megawatt prototype power plant in Bangkok, Thailand.
NNBW: What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
NNBW: What are your favorite hobbies or pastimes? How do you spend your time away from work?
Butterfield: Skiing, auto racing, power sports, wrenching on practically anything, and spending time with my girls.
NNBW: If you could live your life over again, what one thing would you change?
Butterfield: I think I would like to be 1.5 inches taller, I am 5-9 plus and would like to answer 5-11 when asked.
NNBW: What has been your biggest professional disappointment? How about your best professional accomplishment?
Butterfield: I worked extremely hard, putting in 12-plus hours a day for nine months, on a bad idea that failed miserably in the end. I wished I questioned the endeavor with more rigor before I jumped in.
Butterfield: I was lead engineer on a new technology to drastically reduce acid rain producing emissions on gas turbines. It took over three years, and we struggled through a host of challenges. In the end, it became one of the most successful products for our company and was proved extremely beneficial to the environment. It really makes you feel good to have impact like that.
NNBW: What can you do that someone else can’t?
Butterfield: Like a stupid human trick? I can make the vein in the back of my left hand wiggle over half an inch.
NNBW: Where’s your perfect vacation spot?
Butterfield: York Beach, Maine. I grew up spending summers at our family cottage on Long Sands Beach. I have always enjoyed it there. It was only about five years ago that we installed a TV and phone. I think I liked it better before to be honest.
Name: Eric Butterfield, executive engineering manager of GE Bently Nevada
Number of years in this job? One year
Years in this profession? 24 years
Education: BSME, I attended Northeastern University and Rochester Institute of Technology
Last book read? Christopher Moore’s “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal” (That guy makes me laugh out loud on the airplane)
Favorite flick? Two-way tie between “Blade Runner” and “Slap Shot”
What’s on your iPod? Eclectic to say the least … last download was Kings of Leon, “Radioactive”
Spouse, kids or pets? 1,2, and 3 respectively!
In partnership with Tesla and EDAWN, the university is preparing to launch the K-12 Robotics Center inside the new Southside Studio by early 2021.