Moved to design: Meet Hanson’s Kim Sumrak, P.E.

From a young age, Kim Sumrak, P.E., has been working hard and setting the pace for herself and others. While an early interest in math and a love of learning led Kim to choose a career in civil engineering, Kim is also motivated by accepting challenging assignments to help her colleagues and clients and learning new skills and programs to enhance clients’ projects nationwide.

Civil engineer Kim Sumrak, P.E., works on a project as part of her involvement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance grant program.

A civil engineer serving Hanson’s infrastructure market at the company’s Chicago regional office, Kim has contributed to a variety of projects, including roadways, pavement condition inspections and hurricane relief.

In 2018, Kim spent six months in northern Florida, serving the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance (PA) program as an embedded contractor after Hurricane Irma. She helped public and nonprofit grant applicants by conducting assessments and validating infrastructure damage, using her skills to benefit communities in need.

Kim graduated from the University of Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, and she is a licensed professional engineer in Illinois, Iowa and Kansas. She is a member of the American Council of Engineering Companies, the Kansas Society of Professional Engineers and the National Society of Professional Engineers.

Kim stands next to one of the tallest right-of-way markers she’s ever seen. She saw the marker while surveying property boundaries in 2016 at the Waukegan National Airport in Waukegan, Illinois. She said the marker is at least 6 feet tall and at least 60 years old.

Kim recently received Zweig Group’s Rising Stars in Multidiscipline Engineering Award. The Rising Stars Awards recognize younger professionals whose exceptional technical capability, leadership ability, effective teaching or research or public service has benefited the architecture, engineering and construction professions, their employers, project owners and society.

Here, Kim talks more about her career and what drives her at work and in her life.

What led me to pursue this career?

I was the first kid in my third-grade class to finish the multiplication tables up to 12 while everyone was only half done. I figured I should probably do something with math after that.

One of the favorite parts of Kim’s job involves conducting pavement condition index inspections across the country.

What I do on a typical day on the job:

I can be doing anything from being on a construction site doing nuclear density tests and measurements to doing maintenance-of-traffic design for an Indiana Department of Transportation job to organizing staffing and assignments and reviewing plans for a Texas county job.  

My favorite part of my job:

Pavement condition index inspection trips all around the United States (mostly at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas) are by far my favorite part of my job. Even though it involves long days, it’s nice getting away from the desk and having instant-gratification work after areas are inspected.

The biggest challenge I have faced on the job:

The biggest challenge is juggling three big projects in three different states and in three different fields with 2020’s issues happening.

Notable projects I have worked on:

  • Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities’ Glenn Highway capacity improvements design-build, Anchorage, Alaska.
  • FEMA PA program Hurricane Irma disaster relief, Jacksonville, Florida.
  • Illinois Tollway’s Tri-State Tollway planning, master plan and roadway study (Cermak Road to Balmoral Avenue), Cook County, Illinois.
  • Indiana Department of Transportation State Road 38 – Dayton to U.S. Route 421, Lafayette and Clinton counties, Indiana.
  • Indiana Department of Transportation U.S. Route 52 – Templeton to Fowler, Benton County, Indiana.
  • Pavement condition inspections and geographic information system pavement map corrections at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi; the city of Peoria, Illinois; Fort Hood in Texas; and Fort Meade in Maryland.  San Patricio County Road improvement project, Odem, Texas.

What I like to do when I’m not working:

I like to get outside, whether it’s biking or attempting to run but just turns out to be me walking 75% of the time. I also love making projects around the house to avoid cleaning, but I only seem to finish the projects halfway.