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Sarah Jha, BEng '05

Mechanical Engineering | Engineering a more reliable world


When are things going to fall apart?

For most people, that’s a theoretical question. But for Sarah Jha, it’s part of her job description.

As a reliability engineer, Jha’s role is to know when things will break down and to develop a plan that predicts, prevents and manages those equipment failures.

The 2005 Mechanical Engineering grad has spent the last 15 years at ArcelorMittal Dofasco, where she earned certification in reliability maintenance theory.

“I like the physical interaction with the equipment,” says Jha, who credits an internship during her McMaster years with developing her interest in working with heavy machinery.

“It’s quite a unique industry because the scale is so large, and for a lot of the equipment, so complex.”

With responsibility for designing reliability plans for mechanical, electrical and instrumentation-based equipment, she says the role is an all-encompassing one.

“When a piece of equipment fails unexpectedly, part of my job is to understand why that happened,” she says. “I like getting out to the plant and not just being stuck at a desk, and I like being able to take things apart with the maintenance people to see how they work.”

As a female working in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Jha says she has seen many positive changes through the years.

She encourages young women not to shy away from workplaces that have typically been the domain of males.

“Do the work and that will be what shines in the end,” she says.

While illness and an eventual liver transplant in 2018 took Jha out of the workplace for four years and slowed her career advancement, she says it has also helped her see the world differently.

“It’s changed my perspective on life, helped me see what’s really important and allowed me to let go of things that don’t matter so much.”