A Conversation With…Melissa Klingenberg, CTC

Klingenberg is the first woman to win the NASF Scientific Achievement Award.


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Melissa Klingenberg Ph.D., is a principal advisor engineer at Concurrent Technologies Corp., and the recipient of the 2015 NASF Scientific Achievement Award, the first woman to win the honor in the 57 years the award has been given.

PF: What does being the first woman to receive the 2015 NASF Scientific Achievement Award mean for the industry?

MK: I think that the award is something that anyone in the industry, regardless of gender, is inspired by to help innovate and broaden the industry. However, I think that having a woman honoree emphasizes that the industry supports and continues to provide excellent opportunities for women. It is my hope that this emphasis will help to continue to attract talented young women to support the industry.


Melissa Klingenberg, Concurrent Technologies Corp.

PF: What does your role as principal advisor engineer entail?

MK: I collaborate with engineering, science and business staff to identify and deliver the best possible solutions for our clients. We leverage research, development, test and evaluation work to provide customized, transformative, full life-cycle solutions to support our clients’ core mission objectives. I also support technical and business strategic planning, generate and explore new research ideas, and mentor technical staff.


PF: What led you to the metal finishing industry?

MK: When I started at CTC, I had no preconceived notions as to what particular industry I’d be supporting. I was assigned as a junior engineer/scientist into the inorganic finishing area, and more specifically, advanced vacuum systems processing. I was fascinated by high energy surface modification and the physics and materials science behind the processes I was using. From there, I expanded into other dry processing methods as well as wet deposition, including electrodeposition, conversion coatings, etc. I really enjoyed modifying coating compositions, crystalline structures, and surface morphologies to manipulate properties, regardless of the process being used. This fascination drove me to continue my education to better understand how to engineer the properties of coatings.


PF: Tell us about your research in wear-resistant coatings.

MK: Our initial work focused on identifying and developing coatings that were capable of maintaining the engineering properties of coated parts when replacing cadmium or chromium, but doing so using a more environmentally acceptable process or material. However, as we searched for alternatives, we found that many processes, wet or dry methods, were capable of producing coatings that possessed superior properties through the introduction of high energy, alloying compositions or use of particle co-deposition. In some instances, we were incorporating ancillary equipment into conventional deposition means or using subsequent processing to produce better microstructures and even effect crystalline changes that inherently had better wear and corrosion properties. From there, we began narrowing our investigations to examining how different crystalline structures and morphologies of a single compositional range affected adhesive and abrasive wear properties and how we could slightly modify those properties to optimize the wear protection in a wear system pair.


PF: What is the secret to your success?

MK: Teamwork. I have been very fortunate throughout my career at CTC to work with so many talented technical, business, and support staff both inside and outside of our organization. I have learned something valuable from each and every individual with whom I have worked.


PF: What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?

MK: I would tell myself not to be overly stressed about things that are outside of my direct control.


PF: What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

MK: Part-time at the concession stand at our community pool. Although it has been quite some time since I worked there, I think that I learned that fast and friendly customer service is foremost in any business.


About Melissa Klingenberg:

Family: Husband Scott, daughter Gabrielle and dog Lilly

Favorite Hobby: Photography, making jewelry

Favorite Movie: Fantasy genre, no particular favorite

Favorite Book: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Wuthering Heights

What’s playing on your radio? Anything from 80s pop to Lady Gaga and the Ramones to Aerosmith.


Originally published in the November 2015 issue.


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