John Hillman, P.E., S.E.
(847) 722-4072

Michael Zicko, P.E.
(804) 400-4078

The History of HCB

“What if there’s a way to build better bridges?”

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In 1996, John Hillman had a radical vision that would bring one of the greatest advancements to bridge construction in modern years. Hillman’s experience as a practicing structural engineer and exposure to numerous structural methodologies and design techniques converged upon each other as he asked, “What if there’s a way to build better bridges?” A personal quest to answer the question led to the Hillman Composite Beam (HCB®). The result is a proven technology, offering better performance, low maintenance and superior corrosion-resistance. Today, HCB Inc. is driven to constantly Build Better®.


1996 - 2006
Fall 1996

John Hillman invents the HCB®


Mike Zicko joins Hillman, and HCB Inc. is born.

1996 - 2006

Initial patents are filed and granted.

Research and Development
1996 - 2006

Product development and structural validation of HCB conducted at the University of Delaware, Center for Composite Materials through research grants from the Transportation Research Board – Ideas Deserving Exploratory Analysis (TRB-IDEA) program.

2007 - 2008
Proof of Concept
November 2007

First HCB Railroad Bridge is contructed and successfully tested at TTCI, Pueblo, Colorado.

August 2008

First permanent highway installation of HCBs at High Road Bridge over Long Run Creek in Lockport Township, Ill.

HCB Accelerated Bridge Construction
July 2009

The Route 23 Bridge over Peckman’s Brook in Cedar Grove, NJ is the first use of HCB Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) components.

First Continuous HCB Structure
October 2009

The 8-Span Knickerbocker Bridge in Boothbay Harbor, Maine is the first HCB Bridge made continuous for live load. It also has the first extended top flanges that eliminate the need for deck forming.

2010 - 2014

Hillman receives the Engineering News-Record Award of Excellence for creating and bringing to market the HCB.

First HCB Ports and Marine Structure
October 2011

The Downeast Institute Research Pier becomes the first Marine Structure constructed with HCBs. It is also the first use of HCB Pier Caps.


Hillman and Zicko receive the Construction Industry Forum “NOVA” award given to innovative techniques and methods used on actual projects.

“NOVA” Award

First Long Span HCB Double Web Box
August 2012

Route 97 over Sons Creek in Dade County Missouri becomes the first HCB bridge using the double-web box configuration and becomes the first HCB span longer than 100 feet.


HCB receives Charles Pankow Award for Innovation from American Society of Civil Engineers.

First Military Application
September 2012

Bridge No. 4 at Fort Knox is installed and tested for heavy military loading. 

First Revenue Service HCB Railroad Bridge
October 2014

Canadian Pacific Railway replaces an existing structure with the first HCB on a revenue service line in under 10 hours. It also marks the first installation in Canada.