At the 2015 commencement ceremonies, two Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering alumni will be recognized with distinguished alumni awards.
John Hillman (M.S. 1990)
The Virginia Tech Graduate School will honor John R. Hillman with the 2015 Distinguished Alumnus Award at commencement on May 15.
Hillman, who earned his master’s degree in civil engineering in 1990 and now lives in Chicago, has been involved in the design, inspection and construction management of just about every kind of bridge that can carry pedestrians or vehicles ranging from bicycles to trains. He specializes in unique designs that address difficult transportation dilemmas.
But the founder and president of HC Bridge Company, LLC is perhaps best known in the transportation and engineering worlds for his invention of a hybrid composite beam (HCB) that makes bridges safer, stronger, and lighter, with a manufacturing and the production process geared toward environmental sustainability.
As a graduate student at Virginia Tech, Hillman developed several lightweight floor systems for steel-framed buildings, including some hybrid-composite solutions, so he was familiar with their advantages in construction. But Hillman said composite materials pose a fundamental problem for bridges because they are flexible. His solution was to put place the concrete and steel inside a Fiberglass box.
The beams have been used in highway and bridge projects in at least 11 states and Hillman has received numerous awards for his invention.
Tom Rust (B.S. 1965)
Tom Rust, vice chair of the board of Pennoni Associates of Chantilly, Virginia, and a distinguished member of Virginia’s General Assembly, is Virginia Tech College of Engineering‘s Distinguished Alumnus for 2015.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1965.
“The college has some 66,000 living alumni, providing us with a host of very qualified and prestigious graduates who give back to their alma mater. In Tom Rust’s case, he is a member of the College of Engineering’s Committee of 100 and the university’s Board of Visitors. He is one of only 135 elected members to our Academy of Engineering Excellence,” Richard C. Benson, dean of the college, said in making the announcement.
Rust has distinguished himself as a dedicated public servant, beginning as a member of the Herndon Planning Commission and its town council in 1971. He was elected mayor in 1976 and served for eight years, followed by another 11 years from 1990 to 2001, when he was elected to the House of Delegates.
In March, Rust received the prestigious OPAL award for outstanding lifetime achievement in government from the American Society of Civil Engineers.
As a delegate, Rust has worked with both parties to help ensure the legislature continues to make needed investments in education. He has worked successfully to increase teacher pay, fund colleges and universities, increase student financial aid, and make the community college system more attractive to those who wish to start their collegiate career there and finish at a four-year institution.