Growing up, Susan R. Kelley always enjoyed science classes. She began to hone in on chemistry in high school, but didn’t have much of a desire to complete labs and lab reports. When a family friend mentioned that engineering was a real-world application of science, she was intrigued. Ms. Kelley proceeded to apply to the Georgia Institute of Technology as a chemical engineering student, and ended up earning a Bachelor of Science in the subject in 1992. While she was there, she worked as a co-op student at Hoechst Celanese in Spartanburg, S.C. The Polymer QA department gave her a chance to gather real world experience, which she highly valued. She also worked 20 hours per week on campus at the postal station to supplement her grants and scholarships.
Ms. Kelley initially became interested in joining the staff of Praxair during her job interviews in her senior year. She was thrilled when they hired her as an operations management trainee and was determined to make the most of the opportunity. Ms. Kelley quickly garnered a reputation for excellence, which led her to be promoted to plant engineer after only a year. Her journey then took her from the Alabama office to Praxair’s central engineering office in New York. There, she was responsible for specifying equipment for new production facilities of various sizes and for revising global equipment standards. Ms. Kelley left to join the United States Operations Team as a cost reduction engineer in 2001. She remains with the company’s mechanical integrity team to this day. Her expertise lies in the design and selection of equipment like filters, pumps, heat exchanges, and centrifugal compressors. Notably, she was listed on a U.S. patent as part of the development and implementation team for a cryogenic pipe insulation system.
Looking to the future, Ms. Kelley hopes to spend the next few years continuing to make the plant safer. She genuinely enjoys her work because she gets to deal with different issues every day. Her work ensures that others don’t get hurt on the job. After she’s done, she plans to look within the company to see where else she can apply her skills.
When Ms. Kelley has free time, she enjoys reading, exercising, music, and studying foreign cultures. She is particularly interested in Japanese animation. Ms. Kelley has been a fan of the art form since high school, and recently began to write fan-fiction for some of her favorite series. She also took a few basic Japanese courses and learned to read the hiragana and katakana writing systems, and has an extensive anime CD collection.
Giving back to the community is important to Ms. Kelley, too. Aside from volunteering as a cantor and choir member at her church, she participates in a local charity bicycle ride called Ride for Roswell and donates to many charities. She also participated as a visiting scientist at a local elementary school, a program her company sponsors, before her travel schedule became prohibitive.