Science is a passion for Chemical Engineering student

Category: Student Profiles

Student spotlight – Melanie Williams

Melanie Williams had extensive experience in science before she ever set foot on a Durham College (DC) campus.

The third-year Chemical Engineering Technology student had previously studied at two other post-secondary institutions and worked in a hospital setting before deciding to further her education. After three years at DC and one in field placements at Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Bruce Power, she is ready to relaunch her career.

In recognition of International Day for Women and Girls in Science on February 11, she spoke to us about her passion for science, her educational background, her DC experience and more.

What led you to DC?

I actually went to school initially at St. Lawrence College for veterinary technology. I didn’t finish that but I loved the science; microscopes and biology, it was so fun. Then I did medical laboratory technician at Trillium College, and I got my diploma there. That was my career for a couple years and I just loved it. Then COVID-19 hit, so my career path changed a little bit.

Why did you decide to study Chemical Engineering Technology?

I really like chemistry. The engineering side of it with the physics and everything was very new to me, so that was a huge learning curve. But I know countless people that have come to Durham College, and they loved their experience. I was actually looking at Chemical Engineering and the Biotechnology program. I was really interested in the pathways that the Chemical Engineering program had.

When did you discover your love for science?

I would say when I went away to college the first time. When I was in high school it was something mandatory that you had to take and I don’t think I was really able to appreciate it as much. Vet tech was chemistry but more on the biology side, so I really liked being able to look at samples under the microscope and things like that. It basically just progressed from there.

How is DC leading the way in science?

The professors are unmatched. The labs themselves are so cool. The college is so supportive and they teach you everything you need to know to be successful.

Why is equality in science important?

Having different opinions and perspectives is so important. Everyone’s coming from a different place and everyone has prior knowledge on certain subjects. Having people from every sort of background and every different kind of education come together and share different experiences can definitely help achieve results.

Have you seen a gender gap in science?

I know that engineering can be more male dominated, so it was really nice to see other women interested in it. In the healthcare sector I found it was predominantly women. I think it just depends on the field.

What are your career goals?

I’m hoping to either work at OPG or Bruce Power. I loved every second of working in nuclear. So much of it was similar to what I learned here, all the different instruments and chromatography and spectroscopy. It really helped set me up. Without that prior theory and knowledge of how everything works, I may not have enjoyed it as much.

What is your advice for young women entering science?

If it’s something you’re really interested in, then give it a shot. Coming from someone who’s now finishing their third college program, you can try something and if it doesn’t work out, just try your next pathway. Keep moving forward, and eventually you’ll find something that you love to do. Just go for it.