Our corporate sponsor Pratt & Whitney believes that powered flight has transformed—and will continue to transform—the world. It’s an engine for human progress and an instrument to rise above. That’s why the company works with an explorer’s heart and a perfectionist’s grit to design, build, and service the world’s most advanced and unrelenting aircraft engines.
Over the summer, at the Farnborough International Airshow in Farnborough, England, Pratt & Whitney unveiled their commitment to joining the GoFly community, announcing their sponsorship of the Disruptor Award, which will be presented to one team that is truly innovative, going beyond in developing their personal flying device for the competition.
For Pratt & Whitney, the partnership with the GoFly Prize Challenge felt like a natural fit. “Both organizations believe in innovation, and pushing the boundaries of the future of flight,” Colleen Lynch, communications manager, employer of choice and recruitment, at Pratt & Whitney, said in an interview. What’s more, Lynch said that beyond eagerly watching GoFly Teams try their hand at building personal flyers, Pratt & Whitney hopes that GoFly will bring excitement to the industry and inspire a new generation to show interest in aviation careers.
Below, Lynch shares Pratt & Whitney’s perspective on the competition and offers some advice to participants.
GoFly: What’s it like to work at Pratt & Whitney? What do you find most rewarding about the organization?
Colleen Lynch: The thing about Pratt & Whitney is there are so many opportunities to not only learn about the various fields within the aviation industry but also to grow your career around the world. You could start in our East Hartford, Connecticut headquarters. Then, in a few years, you might want to take advantage of an opportunity and go work in our Singapore location.
Our employees have a wonderful opportunity to utilize our Employee Scholar Program, and continue their education in areas that interest them. Whether it’s getting your master’s or finishing your bachelor’s, there’s a lot of room for growth because the Employee Scholar Program pays for tuition, academic fees, and books at approved educational institutions.
GoFly: Why is it important for Pratt and Whitney to support the GoFly Prize? How does it align with some of your initiatives?
Lynch: The GoFly Prize is in great alignment with Pratt & Whitney because both organizations believe in innovation and pushing the boundaries of the future of flight. We’re really excited to see what teams will be coming up with and developing.
GoFly: What are some of your hopes for the winners of Phase II, and beyond that? What kinds of personal fliers would you want to see take flight?
Lynch: What’s unique about Pratt & Whitney is that our employees have this natural curiosity around aviation and the future of the industry. Seeing what others that have that same curiosity are coming up with and designing is exciting. We can’t wait to see all the different innovations and iterations of personal flight. It’s an opportunity for us to learn as well.
GoFly: What are some of your expectations for the winner of the Disruptor Prize?
Lynch: We’re looking at the Disruptor Prize with our eyes wide open. We are not putting in any major parameters. We want to see what these teams develop, and how they are disrupting the industry because it might be a learning opportunity for us. A broad mindset allows us to look for that next big thing. These teams have already demonstrated a huge amount of innovation and curiosity, so the Disruptor Prize is going to be a really fun award for us to review. It gives us the opportunity to reward that team that has gone beyond to come up with something really cool.
GoFly: What do you think some of the biggest challenges for competitors will be as we continue further into the competition?
Lynch: Teams are getting to the stage where they have to prove their concepts, so that’s going to probably present some opportunities and challenges. As they keep reiterating their designs, there will be difficulties. But, these teams have risen to the occasion time and time again, so we know they can do it.
GoFly: With Phase III underway, what advice do you have for GoFly Prize competitors?
Lynch: Just keep going. There’s going to be frustration along the way. It might seem impossible, but you’ve made it this far, so keep going. And remember: At Pratt & Whitney, we have mentors available on our legal team, our social media team, and, of course, two of our really great engineers are available as well. So, use the mentors not only from Pratt & Whitney, but also from other sponsors of the competition. Use their expertise and their experiences to help you as you move forward.
GoFly: If you could say one thing to the entire innovator community, not just Phase III teams, what would it be?
Lynch: Here at Pratt & Whitney, we’re calling the curious. Advancing the future of flight is what we do every day around the world with over 41,000 employees. If you have what it takes, we want to hear from you.
GoFly: If you had your own personal flying device, where would you fly and why?
Lynch: I just went to London for the first time and that was really great. My daughter would probably want me to choose Barcelona. Actually, a friend of mine and her daughter recently traveled to Morocco, and that would be really interesting to see. If I had a jetpack and could zoom off there, how great would that be?