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Alumna (and Pro Pickleball Player) Elina Geut Nets ASCE Young Engineer Award

Elina Geut, who earned her master’s degree from the Tickle College of Engineering’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2020, is the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)’s 2023 Young Engineer of the Year for Tennessee.

Who is Elina Geut?

Geut is an assistant project manager in the Knoxville office of Civil and Environmental Consultants Inc. (CEC). And, when she’s not working, she’s an avid pickleball player preparing for her first professional tournament.

Elina Geut headshot

The Young Engineer of the Year Award

The Young Engineer of the Year award honors an ASCE member under age 35 who exemplifies technical confidence, as well as leadership on the job and in the community. Geut, who chairs the local ASCE’s younger member group, was nominated by her predecessor in the position.

When the award was announced, Robert Johnson, a vice president at CEC Knoxville, praised Geut as a “terrific young engineer.”

“Her attention to detail and desire to understand the projects she’s supporting has helped her know the right questions to ask in order to keep projects moving forward and identify potential issues early on,” he said.

Discovering a Love for Tennis and Engineering

Originally from Jalalabad, Kyrgyzstan, Geut’s family moved to Orenburg, Russia, when she was 7 so she could attend a tennis academy.

By the time she was in high school, Geut knew she wouldn’t be a professional tennis player, but she kept playing in hopes she’d earn a college tennis scholarship so she could pursue her other passion—engineering.

Geut’s late father had been a structural engineer and her mother studied electrical engineering. Geut said she loves math and physics, and she’s also interested in architecture.

“I figured structural engineering was a perfect fit for me,” she said.

Trent Walker, Elina Geut, Chris Tabeling, and Colby Childress standing on a pickleball court

After graduating from high school at age 16, Geut received a full-ride scholarship to play tennis at UT Martin.

At 17, she moved on her own to Tennessee.

“My mom was very supportive,” she said. “And people there were so awesome, so welcoming. Martin was so small that everyone knew everyone. Moving there by myself was not as difficult as I thought it would be.”

Geut played tennis all four years at Martin, and she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in engineering in 2018.

Moving to Knoxville

She then moved to UT Knoxville to pursue her master’s degree. She worked as a research assistant for Associate Professor Tim Truster and a teaching assistant for Distinguished Lecturer Jennifer Retherford. She wrote her thesis on using computer modeling to predict material behavior over time, looking at how and where various building materials were most likely to fail.

In her spare time—what little there was—she joined a recreational tennis team at UT.

Elina Geut playing tennis

After completing her master’s degree in 2020, Geut went to work for CEC.

As part of the structural group, Geut’s work supports CEC’s offices around the country. She does a lot of traveling, and she has helped design a wide range of projects—from heavy industrial facilities, massive loading docks for barges, wastewater treatment plants, and oil and gas pipelines to retail spaces, a high-end home in Gatlinburg, and a church in Kodak.

Geut recently earned her professional engineer’s license, which allows her to stamp drawings as the engineer of record. She is now pursuing her structural engineer’s license, which is required for engineers of record on more complicated projects and in states prone to seismic activity.

Although she still plays some tennis, Geut said she now prefers pickleball. It is demanding but easier on her arm, which she injured during college.

Geut’s professional pickleball career begins this month when she plays her first tournament in Atlanta.