McKinstry’s Taylor Elzinga Salgado on Shaping Cities and the Construction Industry

“Women in Construction Week is about recognizing the hard and amazing work women are doing in all aspects of construction. I love to learn more about what’s happening around the company and how our women are shaping the industry. It’s a week to celebrate and a week to think critically about the future.”

Taylor Elzinga Salgado is an associate mechanical engineer for New Construction in Seattle and has been with McKinstry since 2014. Learn more about Taylor’s work and how she is shaping the future of the industry.

Learn More About Taylor’s Experience

What is your role at McKinstry/ how did you get there?

I am an associate mechanical engineer for New Construction in Seattle, WA. I’ve been with McKinstry for almost 10 years and most of my career has been designing mechanical systems in new offices for our large tech clients. I started as an intern right after college and have stayed in our Seattle engineering group ever since. I had no idea what I was signing up for initially, but I got to work on some amazing buildings early on and decided I really loved this work.

What attracted you to work in the construction industry?

I have always loved buildings and knew I wanted to do something where I could help shape the city I lived in. As a child, I was designing floorplans for fun and probably would have pursued architecture if I was more artistic! When I was studying engineering in school, I became much more interested in how buildings impact the wellbeing of people who live there and interested in designing with energy and climate impacts in mind.

What does success look like in your role?

When a client has a comfortable building and is happy with the money they spent, that is success at the end of the day. But on a more day-to-day basis, I’m measuring my own success by hitting deadlines, making clients feel heard and keeping to the high level of engineering that McKinstry is known for. As my role at McKinstry has changed in recent years, I’ve also grown to measure success by how happy my team is: whether they have the right amount and right mix of work to do and whether they feel supported by and invested in our engineering team.

What is the most rewarding thing about your job?

My favorite thing about my work is getting to walk through a new, beautiful building and see the final product. Most of my projects take several years to complete, so it’s very exciting to see the culmination of years of planning and design and coordination during the final walks. The odd part is, often our goal in engineering is to design an almost invisible system – one that blends into the architecture and is silent and tucked away behind walls or in basements. We want to design systems that are so good, they go unnoticed. On the best projects, that is super challenging to achieve and super rewarding when we get it right.

What does “Women in Construction Week” mean to you?

It’s pretty simple to me: Women in Construction Week is about recognizing the hard and amazing work women are doing in all aspects of construction. I love to learn more about what’s happening around the company and how our women are shaping the industry. It’s a week to celebrate and a week to think critically about the future.

What do you hope to see for women in the construction industry in the future?

Even in my years at McKinstry I have seen a lot of change for women in our industry, but there’s still a lot more that can be done. My biggest hope is that women in leadership positions won’t be such an anomaly. We need more women calling the shots. I hope that women start to take up more physical space and take up more air time in every room. Part of that is by creating space for women to fill and part of that is encouraging women to talk more and be big. I’m definitely still working on that myself!

What change do you hope to inspire through your work at McKinstry?

Since becoming a mother of two, I’m really interested in helping more women feel supported as they navigate wanting to give it their all at work, wanting to give it their all at home and realizing you can’t do both. It’s tough sometimes (or always?) and the idea of “finding balance” is virtually impossible. We all have important lives outside of work and people who depend on us, whether you’re a parent or not. I hope to contribute to a culture where there’s room for rest and room for priorities to ebb and flow. You can have a successful career and successful project without burning the candle at both ends. That’s why we work in teams, and that’s what I hope my teams in the future feel from me.

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