In high school, Steve Klein wanted to be an architect. He enrolled in the University of Minnesota’s architecture program, but discovered halfway through that he enjoyed civil engineering more. He switched degrees and earned a bachelor’s and master’s in civil engineering with an emphasis in water resources engineering.
Since joining Barr in 1975, Steve has focused on designing projects to be both functional and visually pleasing. This was vital for a $7 million ravine stabilization and restoration project he managed in Battle Creek Regional Park in St. Paul, Minnesota. The design addressed instability and public safety issues while winning over the community with its appealing footbridges, ponds, and naturally looking banks and channel.
But it’s not the size of the project that matters most to Steve; it’s the personal satisfaction of helping others. In fact, one of the projects he is most proud of was remarkably small.
“There was an 85-year-old woman who needed to bring the on-site sewage treatment system up-to-standard at the mobile-home park she owned,” said Steve. “She was told by regulators and engineers that her property had no space for it, but there was no adjacent land she could buy, and she couldn’t sell her property the way it was.”
The woman's son referred her to Barr. Steve discovered that a new system could be built on her property if a neighbor was willing to have his well relocated. Steve convinced the neighbor to allow it and then assisted in landing a state grant to fund the project.
“Twelve years later, the system continues to work well,” said Steve. “It didn’t bring Barr significant notoriety or repeat work, but it made all the difference to a wonderful lady who seemingly had no way out of her predicament.”
Steve also used his engineering and architectural know-how to design and build his home from the ground up—with help from his Barr co-workers to pour and finish the basement and garage floors.
In his free time, Steve uses his skills to help loved ones and friends. He also gives back to his profession through presentations to engineering students and workshops for the University of Minnesota Extension Services and other professional organizations.