Imagine holding four U.S. patents for a landmark and unique bridge technology, more than a dozen foreign or pending patents and winning every major design and construction award available in the nation. Now imagine all of this being accomplished by one individual – civil engineer John Hillman.
In a White House ceremony today, Hillman and 10 other notable individuals were recognized as Transportation Champions of Change for their exemplary work and leadership in developing and implementing transportation technology solutions to enhance performance, reduce congestion, improve safety and facilitate communication across the transportation industry at the local, state and national levels.
A structural engineer with more than 27 years of experience, Hillman’s more noteworthy achievements include managing the construction of a 1,263-foot incrementally launched bridge in Puerto Rico and the design and management of the award-winning 35th Street pedestrian bridge over Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, Ill. He has also been the engineer of record for almost every type of bridge structure imaginable, including a cable-stay, an arch, a truss and a suspension bridge, as well as numerous conventional structures.
Despite an impressive array of world-class bridge designs, Hillman’s crowning achievement is the invention of the Hybrid-Composite Beam (HCB®), a new type of structural beam developed for use in bridges and other structures. This unique technology is a tied arch of concrete and steel contained in a composite shell that optimizes the structural performance of each material in the composition. What results is an economical structural beam for railroads, highways and marine structures that offers a service life of more than 100 years.
The HCB provides for an economical application of advanced composites in infrastructure bridge technology, resulting in bridges that are stronger, safer, lighter, faster to install and much more sustainable than conventional bridge technologies. To date, 24 HCB bridges have been constructed in seven different states, with many more in various stages of planning, design and construction.
According to Hillman, he became a civil engineer because he loves building things. He said he gravitated towards bridges because literally and figuratively he gets to help people stay connected.
Hillman’s goal with the invention and development of the HCB is to provide a revolutionary bridge technology that not only remedies the state of the nation’s decaying bridges, but also provides a solution to the problem that will reduce the burden of infrastructure rehabilitation costs for future generations.