MagniX’s chief technology officer, Riona Armesmith, works on electric propulsion systems like the one in the background at the company’s headquarters in Everett, Wash. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)
Editor’s note: This is part of a series profiling six of the Seattle region’s “Uncommon Thinkers”: inventors, scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs transforming industries and driving positive change in the world. They will be recognized at the GeekWire Gala on Dec. 6. Uncommon Thinkers is presented in partnership with Greater Seattle Partners. Read the other profiles here.
BY ALAN BOYLE
When Riona Armesmith moved from Britain to the Seattle area two and a half years ago to become chief technology officer for MagniX, a company that’s pioneering electric aviation, she had to take a leap of faith.
Armesmith was leaving one of the world’s best-known manufacturing companies, Rolls-Royce, where she was head of programs for aviation futures. She would be joining a privately held company that builds electric propulsion systems for aircraft that won’t go into commercial service until the mid-2020s. And she’d be bringing her husband and their 3-year-old daughter along for an adventure in a whole new world.
“To move halfway across the world, for me, it was easy,” she says. “For my family, it was harder.”
MagniX and its technical team are facing daunting challenges, ranging from working around the limitations of battery technology to running a gauntlet of regulatory requirements. But Armesmith is unfazed. It’s a technological frontier that’s tailor-made for uncommon thinkers.
“There are many of us that moved here for this job because of the technology, because of what MagniX is doing, and because we’ve flown five different aircraft in three years,” she says. “The opportunity to see what you’re doing fly in such a short amount of time — that opportunity is so rare in this industry.”
Armesmith is quick to pay tribute to the team at MagniX’s 40,000-square-foot headquarters in Everett, Wash., where scores of employees design, develop and manufacture electric powertrains.