LIMA — Much of the engine in the aluminum-bodied Ford F-150 is made of the same lightweight material, thanks in part to Katelyn Reno Shelley.
Shelley works at the Ford Motor Company’s Lima Engine Plant as an engine assembly process engineer and is on the team that developed, designed, launched and now maintains the part-aluminum 2.7-liter Ecoboost engine.
She was named one of SME’s Advanced Manufacturing Media “30 Under 30” Future Leaders of Manufacturing for her work at the Lima Engine Plant.
The truck has been described as revolutionary due to the light weight of the aluminum F-150, its better fuel efficiency and smaller engine with the same power, according to an article in The Lima News in January 2014.
Shelley attributes her success to her hard work and the high standard she holds herself and others to.
“I looked at processes instead of just looking at the bare minimum … I took it a little bit further,” Shelley said.
She took a sealant process used on the engine and created a calculator to make it more precise and safer for drivers. The calculator she created is now used as a global standard at Ford Motor Company.
That’s just one of the things she’s done on the project that got her recognized by her bosses, who nominated her for the award.
“I was very honored, very overwhelmed,” said Shelley, 27, of the award. “It was just an incredible feeling to know I don’t just come to work everyday and bust my butt for myself. Other people notice, too.”
The award is intended to commend men and women who have shown leadership and excellence in manufacturing, according to a release from SME.
“These talented and hardworking professionals and students are the future of manufacturing,” Manufacturing Engineering magazine Editor-In-Chief Sarah Webster said in a statement. “Their stories demonstrate that a career in manufacturing can be important and rewarding. These young people are doing critical work, inventing medical devices, reducing industry’s ecological footprint and leading a new wave of manufacturing with 3D software and printers.”
Shelley was named as part of the 2.7-liter Ecoboost engine team after its leader took a liking to her personality and work ethic during her job interview, what she calls “luck.”
“It’s really cool to be on such a high-profile project,” Shelley said. “I definitely feel like I have a personal contribution to the company.”
In addition to being good at her job, Shelley’s good with people, said her co-worker Sonja Heistan.
“Katelyn is very eager to make things right, so even the hourly people, they’ll say, ‘Is Katelyn here today?’ because they want to get her involved,” said Heistan, a senior process coach at the Lima Engine Plant. “When she starts something, she finishes it.”
Shelley said she really enjoys working with them too.
The recognition the award represents reflects well on Lima and Ford, Heistan said.
“It’s good we have strength in the younger people coming in,” she said. “I think she’s an asset in that respect … It’s nice to see someone get recognized.”
Heistan was “really happy” for Shelley when she heard she’d received the award.
“I think it’s well deserved,” Heistan said. “She works hard to do whatever she can on her projects to make them right, she sets a very high standard for herself.”
‘A FORD FAMILY’
After she graduated with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in engineering from the University of Detroit Mercy, Shelley set out to look for a job, with Ford at the top of her list of desired employers.
“I started working at Ford basically because I knew it was a great company to work for,” Shelley said.
She’s always driven Ford vehicles and describes her family as a “Ford family.”
Her uncle, great uncle and several other family members worked for Ford, she said.
“There’s a lot of history in my family that … you can relate back to Ford,” Shelley said.
Shelley knew from a young age that she wanted to be an engineer, as her dad would always rope her into helping him fix household items or appliances, and she got curious.
“I always wanted to know more about things,” she said. “(I wondered) what’s happening inside the box? … I always wanted to know more, and he nurtured me in that way.”
Though her dad’s knack for engineering helped grow her curiosity, she said her drive and work ethic was influenced by her mother.
“She was always a tough nut to crack,” Shelley said. “She was incredibly proud of me no matter what I did, but she always wanted more.”
Shelley said she got where she is today because of the drive for excellence her mother helped instill in her.
Now, she takes pride in the hard work she does because she feels like she’s helping Ford by doing it.
“I definitely feel like I have a personal contribution to the company,” Shelley said. “I like being a part of something that’s important to the company because that makes me feel important to the company, too.”
The work she does allows her to innovate and challenge herself, she said, and that’s what she likes about it.
“She’s a good person, very bubbly, very energetic, and yet demanding at the same time,” Heistan said. “She’s got a good mix in her personality that makes her good to work with.”
Reach Danae King at 567-242-0511 or on Twitter @DanaeKing.