August 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 4 
Commercial Airplanes

Meet the experts

Meet the experts

Technical Webcasts find appreciative audience


Think of them as employee brown-bag lunch presentations on a global scale. They’re Technical Excellence Hours—one of the newest and most widely available programs of the Ed Wells Initiative/Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA)–Boeing Partnership (EWI/SBP). Using the familiar format of a noontime talk and the expansive reach of the Boeing Educational Network, they provide technical information to a sizeable swath of Boeing employees nearly anywhere in the world.

Launched late last year, the program is one of several methods the organization has implemented to help retain and share the knowledge of Boeing’s technical workforce with younger employees. As large numbers of Boeing’s technical experts near retirement, the task becomes more urgent.

No single method could be sufficient, and the organization’s staff is quick to note the limits. But, said Jeanne Blue, a co-director of the EWI/SBP, “it’s one way that experts can share their knowledge with an audience that spans the company.”

The program also is a way to forge connections. “It lets people know about an expert they hadn’t known before, which can lead to an extended exchange or develop into a full-fledged dialogue, where real teaching begins,” said John McMasters, a Technical Fellow and EWI/SBP staff member who is an advisor for the program.

The broadcasts are aired live from a Boeing studio in South Seattle. Recent topics include “The Boeing 787 Dreamliner: More Than an Airplane” and “The Future of Aeronautics.”

“These are interesting topics, and they’re brought right to my desk,” said Paul Weber, an analysis and integration engineer with Integrated Defense Systems in Kent, Wash. “It doesn’t get any easier than that.”

More than 1,700 people attended the first six presentations, watching broadcasts at a Boeing Educational Network site or from their desktop computers via Web-cast. Another 1,100 have used Boeing’s “on demand” technology to view tapes of the presentations at their convenience.

Earlier this year, Tamaira Ross, a design engineer, made a presentation with her mentor, Dan Tracy, a retired Boeing spacecraft design expert. Ross hadn’t realized how geographically dispersed her audience would be, or how gratifying she would find it to talk to people from across the company during the program’s question-and-answer period. Among the more memorable calls was one from Australia, where it was 5 a.m.

Other speakers have also been impressed by the audience response. Last winter, Chet Nelson, an Associate Technical Fellow in aerodynamics with Commercial Airplanes’ airplane product development, gave a talk on high-speed aircraft technology of the future. Nelson was pleased with the opportunity to speak about how products are conceived, but hadn’t expected that his talk would generate such enthusiastic feedback. People contacted him with questions, comments, compliments, and citations to material

they thought might be of interest. “It was pretty neat,” said Nelson. “That kind of response is just not common.” “These presentations,” McMasters said, “are wonderful opportunities for people to connect with people.”


For more information, visit the program’s site on the Boeing Web at (Internal only link) or contact program administrator April Stempniak at or (425) 965-4315.

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