The Women’s Inclusive Network group (WIN@JM) at Johns Manville regularly publishes stories featuring women across the company. In Q2, Kathy Miks caught up with four exceptional Innovation and Commercialization (I&C) engineers. These women have technical responsibility for product lines in each of JM’s three core businesses.
Name: Shelby Dewhurst
Title: Bituminous Product Engineer
Division: Roofing Systems
Years at JM: 6
Tell us what you do at JM: In my role as the Bituminous Product Engineer, I am the link between R&D and manufacturing. I am responsible for all asphalt-based roofing membranes and the associated documentation, specifications, raw materials, testing and performance.
What do you enjoy most about your current job? I love that my current job always keeps me on my toes. Product Engineers are responsible for small-scale testing in the lab through finished product testing and making sure our products fit our customer’s needs. Some days may be spent working in the lab at JM’s technical center looking at new raw materials and other days may be spent at a plant doing trials and working with operations.
What do you enjoy most about working at JM? JM has so many opportunities and has allowed me to grow in my career. I joined JM right after graduating college as a Product Development Technician for Roofing Systems I&C. My goal after I was hired as a technician was to be able to move up to a Product Engineer and I was able to work with my manager to prepare for the role. While I was a technician, I worked with all types of commercial roofing products and developed an understanding of how they all worked. Since then, I have worked as a Product Engineer with Polyiso Coverboards products, Roofing Adhesives and Accessories, and Bituminous products.
What unique skills do you have that help JM win? I like to think of myself as an artistic and creative person and have found that people do not often associate those skills with being an engineer. Some days blending polymers into asphalt to get the desired properties feels like I am creating art rather than doing a science experiment. I have found my creativity to be useful when trying to think of solutions to problems and finding new ways to approach tasks.
What inspired you to go into engineering? As a freshman in college, I was interested in the medical field and wanted to go to medical school. I specifically chose the Colorado School of Mines because they had a high acceptance rate into medical school and not for engineering. I was fascinated by orthopedic joint replacements and prosthetics. Over winter break that year, I shadowed a knee replacement surgery and had the realization that I was more interested in how the components work and the materials they were made of than the surgery itself. It was a huge turning point for me and ever since that day I have wanted to know how everything works together and how to make it better.
What advice do you have for others to encourage young women to pursue engineering careers? My advice to encourage girls to pursue engineering careers is to not be afraid to pivot, it is never too late to go down the engineering path. Continue to ask questions and learn about what interests you most.
What is one fun or interesting fact about yourself? I love crafting and creating art. I learned how to knit on New Year’s Eve when I was 11 and made it a goal to stay up until the New Year every year since learning a new skill. Currently, in my free time, I like to paint, crochet, and create beautiful designs on cups using epoxy resin.