“Whirlwind” is how Senior Integrity Engineer Melissa Windley describes her inspirational engineering journey that now stretches back more than 15 years.
Starting out in 2005 as a technical clerk at our steelworks in Scunthorpe, Melissa has recently achieved the hard-earnt status of Chartered Engineer – and is also waiting to learn whether she’s to be awarded Master of Philosophy in Engineering from the University of Lincoln.
“I never in a million years thought I’d get a degree, let alone achieve chartered engineer status,” said Melissa. “After leaving school, I joined the reprographics team and through creating technical drawings for the site engineers and helping with major projects, I discovered a passion I never knew I had.
“The support from my work colleagues has helped keep me pushing to achieve more and more. I’ve had some really great people around me, taking the time to explain things and sparking my interest in engineering. Their interest in my progress was invaluable.”
The years of hard work that followed have culminated in Melissa’s chartership with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), an elite group of engineers with proven track records in engineering expertise. The IMechE is a global network of more than 115,000 engineers and becoming chartered is international recognition of being a professional engineer, with academic knowledge at master’s degree level.
Melissa said: “Many years ago, I’d attended a talk from the IMechE about the different status levels that could be achieved. I wanted to push myself and prove to myself that I could do this, so I set my targets high on chartered status.”
One of the first steps on her path to chartership was her Mechanical Engineering degree, graduating in 2016 from Lincoln University having embarked on the course 5 years earlier. Melissa said: “As well as juggling my career with lectures, I also took on extra maths lessons to help my learning and this led to some very long days!” Hot on the heels of this success, Melissa achieved incorporated engineer status, having demonstrated her academic achievements and engineering competency to the IMechE.
Next up was IMechE’s 4-stage career learning assessment (CLA) process for chartership status, which entailed a number of arduous steps including an interview with an expert panel. “My interview focused on corrosion," said Melissa. "It’s a topic I’ve been investigating in depth for some time and, in particular, I’ve been looking at the conditioning gas cooling towers at our blast furnaces, why and where corrosion is happening and how to prevent it.”
And on top of all this, Melissa still finds time to help others progress their own engineering careers. She said: “For the last 3 years, I’ve been mentoring students at the University of Hull. It’s great to help young people follow a similar path to mine. I know how valuable it is to be able to turn to others for advice and encouragement, it can make all the difference.
“What I’ve learnt is that if you have the support, the drive and you push yourself, you can achieve anything.”
Engineering Director Mark Cunningham applauds Melissa’s efforts. He said: “Melissa’s achievements are really very impressive, all credit to her. Working towards chartered status has not only helped advance her own expertise and knowledge, she’s helping improve our business performance and reliability too. There’s a professional, technical side to engineering that’s often forgotten, it’s not just the nuts and bolts.
“She should be enormously proud of her achievements and I wish her every success with her continued studies and ongoing training.”