She didn’t know it at the time, but Yung Koprowski’s engineering career started when her parents, Arlan and Koo Carroll, moved out to the country.
“My father was an electrical engineer,” Koprowski said. “He essentially bought our house, gutted it, and rebuilt it. So we had a lot of home projects we worked on over the years. I was always impressed with how he could design and build a project.”
Years later, Koprowski, P.E., M.ASCE, is a project manager for Lee Engineering in Phoenix and ASCE has selected her to be among the 10 New Faces of Civil Engineering Professionals for 2016.
“I like the variety of work that I do,” Koprowski said. “I like breaking the mold. When people think of traffic engineers they think of cars or traffic signals. But it also has to do with transportation using transit, walking, bicycling. I really enjoy the projects that incorporate all of that and just try to provide something that’s meaningful to the public.”
Koprowski remembers working as a kid with her dad to design and build a tack room for her horse at their Queen Creek, AZ, home – about 30 miles from Phoenix – where the terrain was primarily desert and orange orchards. She remembers her dad coming home with different computer programs for her to try out – AutoCAD at 12.
“I was an only child, and I was just always interested in that,” Koprowski said. “My dad was always good at including me, good at letting me figure things out for myself.”
That hands-off approach included her career path. There was no push toward civil engineering. Koprowski was interested in veterinary science and started at Arizona State University in biomedical engineering.
She started volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and found she had already developed the required skillset through years of work at home with her father.
“I didn’t know all of the details, but I was comfortable using tools,” Koprowski said. “I was able to kind of jump in and have that technical background and learn quickly.”
Koprowski volunteered every weekend, building homes around central Arizona for nearly seven years. Along the way, she earned a promotion to house leader and, maybe more importantly for the sake of her career, she switched her college major to civil engineering.
“Volunteering really helped a lot in forming what I wanted to do,” Koprowski said.
She still volunteers for Habitat periodically, while also serving as president of the American Society of Highway Engineers Phoenix Sonoran Section.
Her most notable projects at Lee Engineering include the Phoenix Bicycle Master Plan (which prioritized and identified $52 million in infrastructure improvements), the Maricopa Association of Governments Transportation Plan (which identifies safety needs to reduce fatalities and serious injuries in the Phoenix area), systems engineering for adaptive traffic-signal technology at 51 intersections along a 15-mile segment of Bell Road, and design of sensors to collect arterial-road travel time in the cities of Mesa, Gilbert, Tempe, and Glendale.
Arlan Carroll passed away when Koprowski was in her final semester at Arizona State. His inspiration lives on.
“I think a lot of my drive in the past eight years has really been because of that loss,” Koprowski said. “When I decided to change my career path to civil engineering, one of the things my dad found really important was for me to get my P.E. [license]. So that really drove me once I graduated, to be really dedicated to my work and get my P.E. I think he would be really happy.”
Koprowski and her husband, Keith, have two children, Chase and Charlotte.
“Our children fill our lives with joy, fun, and a few sleepless nights,” Koprowski said. “We integrate our family and careers with incredible support from our parents. The love for my kids definitely fills the void left from my dad’s passing.”
ASCE’s New Faces of Civil Engineering recognition programs highlight the next generation of civil engineering leaders. By showcasing young, diverse, talented engineers the program shows that engineering is an exciting profession open to everyone. Ten honorees are selected by ASCE in each of two divisions: collegiate and professional.
The honorees will be recognized during Engineers Week, which starts Feb. 21, and at ASCE’s annual Outstanding Projects And Leaders (OPAL) Gala, March 17, in Arlington, VA.