McNeal Continues Support of GE Aviation Through New Process

Andy McNeal and his portable debulking machine
January 9, 2019
Tech Talk

Andy McNeal was hired as the lead instructor for the Composites Training Center opening in 2014 to assist in training GE Aviation employees for the company’s Asheville expansion.

GE Aviation built a new 170,000 square-foot facility in Asheville, which was the first in the world to mass produce ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) and A-B Tech was involved from the beginning to train employees on the process. Since 2014, McNeal has taught numerous employees and recently assisted GE Aviation with a new portable process.

As part of the Composites Center, McNeal makes sure the equipment and processes are as similar as possible to what GE Aviation has in its facility to give potential employees hands-on training at A-B Tech.

GE Aviation asked McNeal if he could design a debulking process that more closely resembled their process in the college’s Composites Center for more streamlined training. Debulking is a method to reduce the air trapped during the lay-up process of the composite structure. McNeal went to the GE facilities and observed the permanently mounted machines. “When I saw them, my thought was to make them portable so they could be used anywhere in the plant,” he said.

McNeal took a few notes and came back and penciled a design. He put everything together after working with the machine shop in A-B Tech’s Workforce Development/Continuing Education Division and was able to make a portable design that GE is considering copying so they can incorporate it, too. Now students in the class at A-B Tech are able to use the portable device and will be better trained to work in the composites field.




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