For Mother’s Day, Young Structural Engineer Tells How She Structures Life

May 6, 2016
Inna Tasmaly, P.E., M.ASCE - young mother, wife, fulltime buildings engineer, and volunteer for ASCE.
Inna Tasmaly, P.E., M.ASCE - young mother, wife, fulltime buildings engineer, and volunteer for ASCE.

This Mother’s Day likely will be a normal Sunday for Inna Tasmaly.

She’s hoping to spend the day with her husband, Yuriy, and their two sons, Phillip and Asher, exploring the beach near the San Diego home they just moved to this spring, and, afterwards, enjoy a nice dinner out. And, of course, she’ll try to find time to fit work into the weekend.

It’s a good life for Tasmaly, 31, a senior engineer at BergerABAM. A busy life, but a good life.

“My husband and I try to stagger our schedules for work. That’s one way to help manage it,” Tasmaly said. “Quite often, I also try to work in the evenings or on the weekends. Whenever I need to get something done, I just log in after the kids go to sleep.

“Everyone has their lazy days, but I’m one of those people who will keep going,” she explained. “I’m kind of like the Energizer bunny; always going, always moving. It’s just something that’s built into me. After the kids go to bed it’s easy to say, ‘OK, now I’m going to work for a few hours.’”

Tasmaly credits her parents for instilling that work ethic. They emigrated from Russia in 1988, moving their eight children through Europe, eventually arriving in California when Tasmaly was 4.

Tasmlay Tips Sidebar“My parents had nothing. Most of the stuff we had was donated to us,” Tasmaly said. “I remember my dad working two jobs so they could buy a house. Seeing that progression and how that hard work really paid off has always been a natural motivator.”

Tasmaly grew up in Seattle, and while still in high school, studied to earn an associate’s degree at a local community college. But as she didn’t yet know what she wanted to do for a career, she spent a couple of years away from school, got married, and had her first child.

“I always knew I’d go back to school. I just hadn’t made up my mind what I was going back for,” Tasmaly said. “Besides, Yuriy and I decided that we wanted to start a family first.”

She wound up studying structural engineering at the University of Washington, graduating in 2010.

“I love how so many pieces have to come together in order for a building, a bridge, or some other structure to be built,” said Tasmaly, who has worked at BergerABAM for six years and been very active in the Seattle Section, particularly with younger members.
Tasmaly said she enjoys seeing her designs constructed but is also proud of her work pursuing and securing projects with BergerABAM clients.

It’s only just now that her peers are starting to fully understand the pace of her schedule as young mother, wife, fulltime buildings engineer, and volunteer for ASCE.

“A couple of my friends in the civil engineering industry have started to have children, and multiple friends have reached out to me and said, ‘Wow, I have a lot of respect for you. I can’t believe you had a child when you were in school,’” Tasmaly said.

“It’s amusing to hear them come back and say that. Before, I’d explain something like, ‘I can’t stay and study because I have to run to daycare,’ and they’d say, ‘Wow, that’s hard.’ But now that they have children, they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, how did you do it?’”

As for the Tasmaly children? They’re impressed, too.

After a presentation about her career at her 10-year-old son Phillip’s elementary school, “he was like, ‘I never knew you did that. That’s really cool! Maybe I will be an engineer.’”

Asher, 4, doesn’t need any convincing. “Sometimes he’ll say he’s an engineer and he’ll dress up like a construction worker,” Tasmaly said, laughing. “I have my hard hat in the car so he’s always wearing it.”

The diversity campaign I Look Like A Civil Engineer is staging a Mother’s Day essay contest for children in grades 2-12 with mothers who are engineers. Winners receive a $50 gift certificate. How to enter.

1 Comment
  • Kudos to Inna and her precious family for having a dedicated, resourceful, and hard-working, yet smart-working mother. I am thrilled to become a wife and a mother and this article is truly motivating in that it gives me hopes on being able to balance my professional pursuits and personal commitments.
    Thank you Inna for your the valuable tips that you share and I know not until I can embrace them that I can see how rewarding it is for both being an engineer and a parent.
    Best of luck to you and your dearest family. Always remember even during the hardest or busiest moments in your life, your husband, your children and your colleagues are lucky to have your energy in excelling at everything you do and your selfless care for others.
    –Words from a mid-20s excited engineer and PhD student in Florida.

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