Q&A: Highlighting Houston women in engineering after the global International Women in Engineering Day (Source: Houston Chronicle)

Jun 30, 2021

By Ryan Nickerson

International Women in Engineering Day began in 2014 as a campaign from the Women’s Engineering Society. The event attempts to raise the profile of women in engineering and focus attention on the career opportunities available in the industry.

Now, INWED has grown into a global campaign, with virtual activities and webinars to celebrate the day, June 23, that everyone throughout the world can participate in.

The Houston Chronicle reached out to the Uptown engineering firm Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc to highlight three accomplished women engineers. The engineers are Christine Kirby, P.E., Senior Associate and Project Manager, Kelly Shipley, P.E., Associate and Team Leader, and Melissa Mack, PE., Vice President and Principal.

Q: What inspired you to become an engineer?

Kelly Shipley: Growing up, I loved math, physics, and problem-solving. I also loved to build things. When deciding on a career path, I chose engineering because I wanted to do something that could merge all these together.

Christine Kirby: I was 15 years old in the 10th grade, and it was career day at my high school. A chemical engineer came and gave a presentation for my class. When he talked about solving complicated problems and finding solutions to make the world better, my eyes lit up. I knew from that very moment that I was meant to be an engineer. Before that, I knew nothing of the engineering field or any of the various disciplines. I never imagined myself in a career like engineering and couldn’t really picture what it would be like. As a kid growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, I did not know of any females pursuing similar careers. But I knew that something involving problem-solving and helping people was right up my alley.

Melissa Mack: I was born in Belize City, Belize. My dad was an engineer in Public Works and my mom a teacher. She went back to Jamaica to finish her teaching degree when I was about 2, so it was my dad and me for a while. He bought me tons of trains and train tracks and ‘boy’ toys, and I loved it. Growing up, he and I would fix cars together. From a little girl, I knew I was going to be an engineer.