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Women of WiN

Melissa De Melo

Melissa De Melo
Title: Chemical Technologist
Company: Bruce Power

When Melissa De Melo was a little girl, she didn’t want to be a chemical technician when she grew up. She imagined she’d be an astronaut.

“But then I realized I was afraid of heights and decided that wasn’t a good idea,” she says.

Today, she works in the chemistry department at Bruce Power. During every shift Melissa takes samples of radioactive and non-radioactive materials that are used on the site. She ensures that these chemicals are within a safe range. By analyzing these samples, chemists like Melissa keep the nuclear reactors operating smoothly and help protect the workers and surrounding environment. Melissa, a lover of animals and nature, says this is extremely important to her.

“We monitor chemicals in the water to make sure nothing enters the lake,” she says. “I like that Bruce Power is so environmentally aware. They give the wildlife a ‘voice.'”

Melissa may have given up her dream of flying into space, but her passion and natural talent for science remained close to her during her adolescence. In grade eight she attended a ‘girls and engineering’ workshop. The female speakers inspired her, she says. She applied and was accepted into chemical engineering in her first year of university. But, after one year she decided the theory-based education did not match her desire for hands-on experience.

“Growing up, my dad and I used to build things together,” she says. “I wanted that in my education, so I thought college would be a better fit.”

Melissa entered the chemical technologist program at Mohawk College of Applied Arts and Technology in Hamilton, Ontario. Moving from engineering to chemistry was a challenge— something Melissa says she enjoys.

“Chemistry was a challenge for me even in high school and that’s why I like it,” she says. “Everything in our would involves chemistry— our hair products, makeup— it follows me wherever I go.”

Through a series of diverse co-ops and applied in-class training, Melissa found her niche in the nuclear industry. She spent her first year after graduation working for Ontario Power Generation. She then moved to Bruce Power where she has been working for the past 10 months. She became involved in Women in Nuclear (WiN) soon after she arrived and says she enjoys the social aspect.

"I didn’t know anyone when I moved here. It was a great way to get to know other women in the industry and share our experiences.”

Although only a quarter of the employees in her division are female, she says there are many opportunities for young women.

“You can do it as long as you can hold your own,” she says. “My colleagues listen to me and respect what I have to say.”

In the future, Melissa hopes to use WiN as a platform to educate other young women and girls about her occupation and the nuclear industry.

Created on September 11, 2008. 


Shannon Weatherhead-Radiation Protection TechnicianShannon 
Weatherhead
-Radiation Protection Technician,Candu Energy Inc.View Profile

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