What she does: DeFelippo works as a lab specialist with BASF at a facility in Monaca, Pa. The plant specializes in latex adhesives for things like roofing shingles, flooring and those stickers that told us to stand six feet apart during the pandemic. She runs tests to see how sticky things are, particularly under different conditions, and how they might be changed.
Why materials science: DeFelippo started her studies at Pitt-Bradford thinking she would study mechanical engineering. She liked robotics and was good at math science, so it seemed like a good fit for her. Once she got to the Pittsburgh campus and began upper-level classes in mechanical engineering, her interest waned. One of her professors talked to her about materials science, which included more chemistry, metallurgy and ceramics. “I was like, ‘That sounds sick,’” she said. “It was cool taking ceramics classes and thinking differently. You think of ceramics as something hard and brittle, they now have flexible ceramics that are used in aerospace or to insulate nuclear reactors. I had really missed being in the lab. It was very interactive.”
Her greatest engineering challenge: “I had it in my head that I wanted to go into research and development,” she said. After graduating from the Swanson School of Engineering at Pitt, she got a job doing just that with glass. “It was boring. I have too much energy to be functioning slowly.” She was laid off during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, which she said was a blessing in disguise. “I’ve found my home here now in manufacturing. It never stops. You have to think on the fly. It’s a whole different vibe – so fast paced and always moving.” She said that atmosphere contributes to an environment of equality. “If you’re here, you’re here for a reason,” she said. “It’s because you can do the job.”
Her passion projects: No surprise, DeFelippo loves to keep busy and build things at home, too. She rebuilt a dirt bike that she rides using the mountain biking skills she developed in Bradford. And she also loves to sew and make clothes for her nieces. “I go into work and hang out with the boys all day, then I go home and sew.”
I've found my home here now in manufacturing. It never stops. You have to think on the fly. It's a whole different vibe - so fast paced and always moving.