Name: Tricia Mellor
Title: Design Engineering Supervisor
Company: Altra Industrial Motion
Degree: BSME from University of Hartford
Talk about the culture at your company. What makes it inclusive or supportive of women? What do you enjoy about working there as an engineer?
Altra Industrial Motion truly looks at the individual, not their gender or race. At my plant in New Hartford we have many females in mid-level management. These women are in these positions because they can do the job not because of who they are. I feel that people at Altra see me first as an engineer, then a female.
Every other company I have worked for I have had to work hard at proving I could do the engineering job because I am a female. The people would say they are equal opportunity employers, but the actions of those people did not measure up to that statement. This would still be true after working in these companies for years.
The environment that sees the individual for what they can do, not what gender or race they are is vastly more creative and productive. This fact alone makes it enjoyable to work for Altra Industrial Motion. I can state my opinion without having to defend that I am female. My work is evaluated the same as other engineers. It is a totally different world than I experienced at other companies. It has allowed me to enjoy the work I love to do.
What first drew you to engineering? / When did you first know you wanted to be an engineer?
From a very young age I have been interested in how things work. I would take things apart to see how they worked. In high school when looking at college the guidance counselor said, “you are good at math you should become a math teacher,” I thought that there had to be other options. I chose Mechanical Engineering.
Were there any influential engineers (women or men) who helped shaped your decision to become an engineer? If so, who and why?
I would have to say my parents helped me. They would encourage us to be what we wanted to be. They would help us to get there. They never said you cannot do that because you are a girl. When I wanted to take drafting class in High School my parents fought to get the school to let me.
What barriers do women face in today’s engineering world, if any?
I do not know the current environment for woman getting into engineering as I am not at the point in my career. I happen to be in a barrier free environment. I do not believe it is the norm. Though, hopefully, someday it will be.
Describe your biggest engineering challenge. How did you conquer it or resolve it, or what was the outcome?
The biggest challenges have not been the engineering. It was working in an environment that you had to prove you had the skill to do the job every day. I had to be much better than the others just to work with them.
I overcame it with grit and determination. In the end I guess it made me a better engineer.
Talk about your leadership skills. What lessons have you learned?
Leadership skills are an ongoing learning process. You must adapt to the people you are working with. So, I guess reading people is a very important skill.
I have learned that one needs to be a team player before you can be a good leader.
Have you worked with younger engineers as a mentor, to help them in their career? Or describe any involvement in any STEM or STEAM programs for young people.
I have not had the opportunity to work with STEM programs. I am currently working with some young engineers at Altra Industrial Motion. I try to share with them life lessons I have learned so they can benefit from them, along with teaching the engineering skills they need for their positions at Altra Industrial Motion.
In your opinion, what more can be done to promote greater participation of young women in engineering today?
I think that the younger girls realize that they can choose any career they want the better it is for them. The STEM programs help with this. I believe this environment must start with the parents and family. It is more socially expectable today for women to go into technical careers. The parents must allow their children to explore these options.
What career advice would you give to your younger self?
I do not think I would give advice as I feel I have done well with my choses.