A Magnet Family: The Tomaykos

by Ashley Yuen '13

David Tomayko '93 and Ming Tomayko '93 met through the Blair Student Government Association (SGA) when Ming was elected President and he was elected Treasurer.  As David recounts, “We started dating midway through our Senior year and have been together now for 20 years!”  Ming went to college halfway across the country at Washington University in St. Louis while David went to the University of Maryland, but Ming returned to Maryland for graduate school.  They married in 2000 and are now raising a young son and daughter in Ellicott City.

Like many current Magnet students, Ming has a passion for math.  After completing her undergraduate degree in Math Education at the Washington University in St. Louis in 1997, Ming moved back to Maryland to begin working on a master's degree at the University of Maryland.  While she worked on earning her degree, she became a substitute teacher with Montgomery County Public Schools and had the opportunity to substitute at Blair for both magnet and non-magnet teachers.  The following summer, she was hired for a full time position in the Blair math department.  Thanks to a tip from retired Magnet Computer Science teacher Susan Ragan, Ming learned about a new PhD fellowship funded by the National Science Foundation at the University of Maryland.  “That was how I ended up earning a doctorate and becoming a professor of Math Education,” Tomayko explains.

She is currently an assistant professor of mathematics education at Towson University, where her primary teaching responsibility is a course for Elementary Education majors that demonstrates “how to teach math in engaging and effective ways.”  Though she had a good experience with math as a child, she understands that this is not true for all students.  “What I love about my job is knowing that I am helping children get a better math experience, particularly in the early grades, by preparing their teachers,” Ming says.  While teaching high school students, she “felt it was important to help students regain their math confidence and math self-esteem,” as many students today continue to feel they are not good at math.

Through Ming's career, David has been at her side: “He has been very supportive while I've been a high school teacher, graduate student, professor, and mom."

David can trace his engineering career back to his senior research project, a self-powered water pump, which helped him earn a job working for a professor at the University of Maryland to make experimental apparatuses, and a summer internship at 3M where he conducted experiments on polymer extruders.  From there, David’s interest in engineering took off.  “I quickly learned how much [] I liked designing and making stuff,” he explains.  David is currently the Head Transmissions Engineer for the DeWalt Power Tools line at Stanley Black & Decker.  Some notable products he helped design include “an award winning multi base router system, a small angle grinder, a cordless nailer, and a cordless drill,” and he has had about a dozen U.S. and international patents approved. 

“I love working on new and challenging problems.  My motto at work is ‘making the world better one power tool at a time,’” David says.  After earning his BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland in 1997, his Master’s project involved developing a new type of injection molding machine that would “allow for several orders of magnitude mixing and blending capability.” David started working at Black & Decker in 1999, and describes his job with DeWalt as “a natural fit for [him]” since he has been using tools to make things ever since he was young.  Even during his time at Blair, he “did odd jobs for neighbors and worked in a cabinet shop in the summers to earn spending money.”

The Blair Magnet experience has certainly come in handy for David in his career.  The broad exposure to the many STEM fields through the Magnet Program helped him grow in many ways.  “I often make interdisciplinary connections that others miss because they do not have the same knowledge base,” David comments.  Overall, the Magnet Program taught him that “there are many brilliant people in the world and they all have a slightly different way of approaching problems.”  Ming also appreciates the friendships she made through the Magnet, the positive impact the Magnet had on her overall college experience, and the role it played in her ultimate career path.  In 1998, the Tomaykos organized a 5 year reunion for the class of ‘93 magnets.  “I sent out postcard invitations and we had a potluck cookout at Jon Clark's house. We had a great turnout,” Ming says.  They are now helping organize their 20 year reunion, and the plans are well underway.