June 23rd is International Women in Engineering Day and KPM Franklin is proud of female accomplishments in this field. We support the many women who bring their knowledge, creativity and skills to the table. Thank you to all the women engineers and an extra special thank you to every female on KPMF’s engineering team.
KPM Franklin is grateful for our phenomenal team of professional engineers. Heading our projects in transportation engineering is Tonya Mellen, PE. She is a project manager, FDOT prequalified for major and minor roadway projects, a wealth of experience in her field and an overall asset to our office.
Tonya has over 30 years’ experience in this traditionally male dominated field. However, Tonya has known since age 12 that her dream was to become a civil engineer and has been a champion in her field ever since.
Tonya is the current president elect of the East Central branch of the American Society for Civil Engineers and leads KPM Franklin’s transportation projects. Most recently she completed work on the US 1 and Pineda Causeway intersection improvements, increasing safety and overall roadway operations.
Learn more about Tonya and her journey and career as a professional engineer!
What inspired you to go into the engineering field?
My father is a Civil Engineer and worked in construction. He and I were very close, and I loved seeing projects come out of the ground.
What is your education background?
I went to Georgia Tech and co-oped, meaning I worked every other quarter (yes, we were on quarters) for four years and then three quarters straight for a Bachelor of Civil Engineering. It was great for the experience and the budget.
I have been part of ASCE since college and I was the state GRC chair for 6 years. I am currently the president-elect of the East Central Branch. I am also part of the Florida Engineering Society (FES) some other non-engineering groups.
What are some of the highlights of your career as an engineer?
I was Engineer of Record (EOR) and project manager for sections of the Polk County Parkway and the Suncoast Parkway in the early 90’s. These were collaborative projects and I really enjoyed working with the extended group. Many are still friends of mine today.
My favorite thing about my career is the people I get to work with and the young engineers I have had the opportunity to help along the way.
What has been your favorite project or type of project?
I like complex projects, which usually end up being limited access highways, but it’s all about the team and the clients. If they aren’t fun to work with, the project isn’t fun. If you can’t enjoy the work, what’s the point?
What skills have you developed while working in this industry?
Halfway through my career, I inadvertently became the “fixer.” I think the skills I developed waitressing helped me deal with unhappy clients and difficult consultants. I’m able to turn the projects and the attitudes around.
What excites you the most about this industry?
All the young, intelligent and energetic engineers coming out of school ready to work and learn.
What is the best part about your job?
With KPMF, it’s the people.
Do you have any secret talents or one thing that you are really good at?
I coach volleyball and basketball when I have time. It’s very rewarding. I also like to make jewelry, but I am not really that good at it.
What advice would you give others, especially other young women, who are interested in pursuing this career?
The opportunity is limitless. Work as much as you want or as little as you want and never regret the decisions you make to balance your life.