Michael Zicko, P.E., M.ASCE
“Since I was eight years old, I knew I would build bridges. I was fascinated by the “new” Interstate Highway System and marveled in the achievement of those who built it. In particular, I wanted to know how bridges were able to carry cars, trucks and trains over rivers. Since then, I’ve been focused on bridges and better ways to build them. I’ve been fortunate to work with talented and innovative people who mentored me and shared the same quest.
It started for me back in the 1980s with prefabricated bridge modules and precast deck systems that had inherent benefits for service life. Then we began replacing bridges in 30 days, shortened that to weekends and ultimately overnight.
I was struck one day during an installation in Petersburgh, N.Y., a small town near Albany, that what seemed like the entire town turned out to watch their bridge being replaced. One of the older townspeople brought photos of the construction of the existing bridge and a few others made lunch for the entire crew. All were there to express their gratitude for the new bridge. We sometimes take for granted the bridge will always be there and we’ll always be able to get across. But when a bridge is out of service, no matter what its size, and you see the effect it has on a small community, you understand its importance. Since then, I’ve understood how important safe, long-lasting bridges are to all of us.
In 1997 I saw a presentation on using fiber-reinforced polymers (FRP) to repair prestressed concrete bridge girders. I wondered, if you could repair a concrete girder with it, why wouldn’t you build it with FRP since it didn’t rust? Later that year, while working on a new segmental bridge system for short spans, the Channel Bridge, I met John Hillman, who was the designer for the bridge. He mentioned to me that he had an idea for building bridges with FRPs. As John toiled through developing his idea, we stayed in touch. In 2005, the time was right for me to join him and construct the first HCB railroad bridge.”
Michael Zicko has 30 years of experience in the bridge design, engineering and construction industry specializing in the development of innovative prefabricated infrastructure systems and methods. In addition, he has been involved in Accelerated Bridge Construction projects since 1988 with the Horseshoe Bridge on Route 23A in Greene County, N.Y., for the NYSDOT. Zicko was the Project Engineer for Archer-Western Contractors for the I-95 Bridge over the James River in Richmond, Va., which replaced 100 spans in overnight construction windows. He has the distinction of developing precast solutions for both the existing and new Tappan Zee Bridge in N.Y.
Additionally, Zicko has worked on marine infrastructure projects, including prefabricated elements for Pier 26 and the USS Intrepid Pier in New York City, the North Carolina Aquarium’s Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, N.C., and lock wall panels in New York State.
Zicko is the co-recipient of the 2010 Construction Innovation Forum’s NOVA Award, along with Hillman. He holds a BSCE (1977) and MSCE (1986) from Clarkson University.
John Hillman, P.E., S.E., M.ASCE
“I’ve always had a great love for music, and although I admire a talented musician or conductor, it has always been the composer/song writer that I’ve found to be most fascinating. I’ve always been intrigued by the impact of a unique composition and I admire the vulnerability of the composer who is willing to take a chance and arrange the only seven notes in any given scale in a new form that stirs our souls. It is the art of the science that is most compelling.
Throughout my life, I’ve been inspired by people in all walks of life who demonstrate this same courage to create paradigm shifts whether it is in music, art, literature, sports, politics or science. It was never my intention to be an inventor, but I’ve always felt compelled to find a more elegant solution in every problem I’ve been confronted with. I believe this is the driving force that compels any of us to become engineers. I’ve also had the good fortune of having worked for and with some of the greatest bridge engineers of my time, who continuously inspired me to challenge the conventional sensibilities of design and analysis of structures. These life experiences have compelled me to create the HCB®.
It has not been an easy journey to convince a profession that is justifiably prone to err on the side of caution and by nature risk averse, to consider that we don’t have to do things the same way they have always been done. Nevertheless, it has been a journey that has been personally rewarding. Since the inception of HCB in 1996, I have never regretted one step along the path I chose to travel. I consider it a great honor to be a builder of bridges. I hope the success of HCB will inspire future generations of engineers to compose their own symphonies.”
John Hillman is credited with developing the HCB product and its manufacturing process. In 2010, Hillman was the recipient of the Engineering News-Record – Award of Excellence. This recognition is only bestowed on one individual per year at the discretion of the ENR editorial staff. Hillman is also a co-recipient of the 2010 Construction Innovation Forum’s NOVA award and 2012 Charles Pankow Award for Innovation from ASCE. In 2013, Hillman was recognized by President Barack Obama as a “White House Transportation Champion of Change.”
In addition to his work on the HCB, Hillman has been involved in the design and construction of unique and complex structures since 1986. While in graduate school at Virginia Tech, Hillman developed several innovative lightweight floor systems for steel framed buildings, including some hybrid-composite solutions.
Following graduate school, Hillman served as project manager for the construction of a 1,200-foot incrementally launched, segmental bridge in the mountains of Puerto Rico. In addition to his construction experience, Hillman has been involved in various capacities in the design of almost every type of bridge and has served as Engineer of Record on cable-stayed, tied-arch, steel truss and suspension bridges as well as conventional structures. In 2003, his unique design for a mono-cable, self-anchored suspension bridge was selected as the winning entry in the Bridging the Drive competition held by the City of Chicago and the Chicago Architectural Foundation. This bridge is slated for completion in 2015.
Hillman holds a BSCE from the University of Tennessee (1986) and a MSCE from Virginia Tech (1990).