Lafayette designer of bridges and roads named Engineer of the Year



LAFAYETTE, Ind. – After a 35-year career in the family business and having helped design or inspect more than 600 Indiana bridges, Stewart Kline of Lafayette was named the Association’s Engineer of the Year Indiana counties.

Kline’s two careers

Kline, who graduated from Lafayette Jefferson High School and earned his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University, has spent his entire career – both – working on the design, development and safety of completed bridges and highway constructions in the ‘State. His early career with the family business H. Stewart Kline & Associates first gave him the opportunity to pursue his work as a structural engineer.

“We were an engineering consulting firm,” Kline said. “We’ve designed roads and bridges, some of heavy industrial design. We’ve mostly worked for the Indiana Department of Transportation, six or eight different counties, mostly Tippecanoe.”

Some of the bridges and major highway projects Kline worked on during his long career include: the reconstruction of the Klondike Highway; Curve corrections CR 200 N and CR 600 N; Improved CR 500 N to CR 50 W intersection and traffic lights; Concord Road to CR 430 S Safety improvements and replacement of Bridge No. 133.

“We worked in White, Benton, Cass, Fulton, Carrol (counties), we might have built a bridge in Montgomery at some point,” Kline said. “Essentially the outlying area plus Fulton. Pretty much all of central and northern Indiana.”

H Stewart Kline & Associates was sold to VS Engineering in 2017, therefore that specific business is closed and the company name retired.

Kline’s second and current career is as a Tippecanoe County engineer, a job that still has strong ties to what he previously did as an engineering consultant.

“I can supervise people doing what I used to do,” Kline said. “The county is responsible for bridges, and that was a big part of my forte, that was bridges. My engineering degree was in structural, and the business I took over was my dad’s business. …70%+, maybe 80% of the bridges that now exist in the county were designed by me or a predecessor.”

Engineering degree of the year

The Indiana Counties Association chose Kline as the 2022 Engineer of the Year. Kline says he had no idea the award was coming and had to be brought downstairs to the ceremony beforehand in order to receive it.

“(I felt) embarrassed,” Kline said. “I wasn’t expecting it… It was the last night of the (AIC) conference in South Bend. I hadn’t even planned to go but, in fact, I was relaxing in my bedroom. hotel for that last night of the conference and one of our county commissioners kept calling me and saying, ‘You really have to come here for that dinner.

“(I was wondering) why. So somehow he knew this was going to happen. He had contacted my wife. So I went down, I’m in South Bend, IN and I went down to dinner and my wife is sitting there. I knew then something embarrassing was going to happen.”

The award consists of a sign presented to Kline in honor of his career-long dedication to engineering in the state of Indiana.

Kline attributes at least part of the reason he won this honor to Tippecanoe County and its overall high quality.

“I think Tippecanoe County as a whole has a pretty good reputation statewide,” Kline said. “For many reasons, some simply because we are Tippecanoe County and it’s an amazing community.”

Other Notable Accomplishments

Kline also sits on many local boards, such as the Friendship House Communities Board of Directors as Chairman, the West Lafayette Little League Board of Directors, Vice President of the Indiana Association of County Highway Engineers and Supervisors, Fellow of the American Concrete Institute, American Institute of Steel Construction and many others.

Kline has expressed how important it is to him to give back to the community, which is why he sits on these boards.

“It’s the norm for giving back to the community,” Kline said. “I mean, it’s part of your duty. At least that’s how I was raised, I think. You have to.”

Margaret Christopherson is a reporter for the Journal & Courier. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @MargaretJC2.

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