2011 Early career award: Jennifer Topinka

// Mechanical Engineering

Tags: alumni, Engineers' Day, Jennifer Topinka, ME E-Day

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jennifer-topinka-100pxWJennifer A. Topinka
Senior Finance Manager
General Electric — Oil and Gas
BSME ’01
Houston, Texas

In only seven years, Jennifer Topinka has established herself as a rising start at General Electric (GE). As the engineering finance manager for GE Oil and Gas, Topinka is responsible for $200 million in research and development investment and engineering finances. Her work stems from a passion for fuel efficiency. While at UW-Madison, she was very active on the vehicle teams, participating as the team leader on the UW-Madison FutureTruck project, a unique challenge for engineering students that brought academia together with government and industry resources to improve fuel efficiency in sport utility vehicles.

She balanced academic performance with many extracurricular commitments, including research projects at the UW-Madison Robotics Laboratory and Engine Research Center with Mechanical Engineering Professors Nicola Ferrier and Pat Farrell, respectively. She also was active with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Pi Tau Sigma and the Society of Women Engineers.

Topinka graduated with her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2001 and completed her master’s degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003, where she researched lean burn engines. She then joined GE as mechanical engineer at the GE Global Research Center in New York, where she continued her research interest in developing new technologies to enhance fuel efficiency in internal combustion engines. Working closely with GE Transportation, she developed and tested low-emission technology for locomotive engines. Topinka is listed as an inventor on four issued patents for new engine technologies, including a system to control fuel injection events.

In 2008, Topinka joined the GE Corporate Audit Staff, a two-year internal leadership program. During the program, she completed global assignments across multiple GE businesses ranging from core industrial to financial services. She acquired business acumen by performing process and financial risk assessments and addressing required improvements. After graduating from the program in 2010, Topinka moved to an engineering finance role at GE Oil and Gas, located in Houston, Texas. As a senior finance manager she is responsible for the platform-wide engineering budget, as well as analysis to optimize research and development budget allocations.

Topinka has championed environmental initiatives that focus on driving environmental responsibility. At GE she has co-founded two organizations, including we “c” green at the GE Global Research Center and EcoForum within the GE corporate audit staff.