When veteran engineer Andrew W. Herrmann speaks to the public about the critical state of the nation's infrastructure, his passion is evident.
"As a parent, if my children came home with Ds on their report cards, I'd be very upset," he said when interviewed on the History Channel's 2009 documentary "The Crumbling of America," which cites the D grade given to the nation's infrastructure by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Herrmann, who has held numerous positions at ASCE including serving as president in 2011-12, goes on to say that the entire nation needs to be upset with such grades and, "we have to go talk to the principal; we have to start doing things that will improve those grades."
For 40 years, the former principal-in-charge of New York City-based transportation design firm Hardesty & Hanover hasn't stopped talking to the public about infrastructure issues. Often thrust into the spotlight despite his modesty, Herrmann has represented the industry to the media and the general public on numerous occasions and has been cited in reports by CBS News, The New York Times and The Washington Post, and quoted in several books including Sam Roberts' "Grand Central: How a Train Station Transformed America."
He flew in a helicopter over Pittsburgh last November with "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft to emphasize structural problems affecting that city's bridges. He has also represented ASCE before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, testifying numerous times on the national problem of structurally deficient bridges.
"Andy has a gift for clearly explaining infrastructure issues to both technical audiences and lay people, a fact that is demonstrated by the sheer number of times he has given speeches, presented papers or had his remarks cited in newspapers across the country," says Paul M. Skelton, a Hardesty & Hanover principal.
Herrmann has also had a distinguished career in engineering, picking up such honors as the ASCE 2009 President's Medal that recognizes engineers' accomplishments and contributions to the profession, ASCE or the public. He is a professional engineer in 29 states as well as in Ontario.
Herrmann's project experience includes work on many signature U.S. bridges of the last few decades, including New Jersey's Pulaski Skyway and the $600-million multiple-award winning Willis Avenue Bridge Replacement project in Manhattan.
Herrmann is an expert on the subject of movable bridges, which has allowed him to manage and coordinate the structural-mechanical-electrical designs of center and rim bearing swing bridges, span and tower drive vertical lift bridges as well as various types of bascule bridges from simple trunnions to patented bridges such as Strauss trunnion and Scherzer rolling lift bridges.
One of the hallmarks of Herrmann's career has been his active and continuous participation in numerous professional activities and organizations. Besides his 40-year involvement with ASCE, which includes serving on the Advisory Council for the Infrastructure Report Card, Herrmann was part of the committee that produced the Guiding Principles for the Nation's Critical Infrastructure in 2008. He was named an ASCE fellow in 1991.
Other industry group participation includes serving as the first chairman, and now chairman emeritus, of Heavy Movable Structures Inc., a not-for-profit organization focused on movable bridges and other heavy movable structures, as well as membership in numerous professional associations.
Herrmann's charitable work includes service with Engineers Without Borders, the St. Mary's Rehabilitation Center for Children, for which he served as director from 1998 until 2002, and the National Council for the College of Engineering at Valparaiso University.
Herrmann holds a B.S. degree in civil engineering from Valparaiso University and an M.S. degree in civil engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of New York, which now is part of New York University.