Jim Andrews has held many positions and seen many changes in his 33 years at PennDOT. Right now, he's assistant district executive for design in PennDOT's Indiana-based District 10, which includes Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Indiana, and Jefferson counties.
Andrews joined the department in July 1985 as a civil engineer trainee, and for most of his career has worked in the Bridge Unit. He was inspired to apply for a PennDOT career after working as an ESTI (Engineering Science Technology Intern) one summer while studying at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. He enjoyed the opportunity and felt PennDOT would provide a stable and challenging career.
RELATED: Discover more about PennDOT's bridges programs
Over the years, Andrews has experienced many changes in technology. When he started, there was no Computer Aided Drafting (CADD) — plans were drafted by hand. The Bridge Unit had just two mainframe computers and one PC with a few programs. Today, everyone has a desktop or laptop computer or CADD station with multiple monitors.
"The implementation of CADD has been a great improvement in design," Andrews said. "However, the 'art' of drafting has dwindled."
Technology changes such as wireless connections allow bridge inspectors to spend more time in the field. They can prepare inspection reports and sketches electronically and download them along with their photos directly into our bridge maintenance system. Andrews remembers a time before this technology, when inspectors had to bring in paper reports and send film out to be developed.
"When I started my career here, we did not have email, smartphones, and laptops," he said. "All correspondence was typed on a typewriter and copies were made with carbon paper. Pictures were developed on film."
One of Andrews' favorite things about PennDOT has been working in District 10's five counties and being part of improving the bridges in the district.
"When I would tell people that I was a bridge engineer in the design unit, they were surprised because they didn't know that aspect of our business," Andrews explained. " We are more than plowing snow and maintaining roadways; employees in the design, maintenance, and construction units take pride in doing great work and improving the communities they live in."
Andrews and his wife of 32 years have two children. His son is married and a captain in the Marine Corps living in North Carolina. His daughter is attending graduate school in Wichita Fall, Texas. Andrews and his wife love to travel — especially to the beach — and he enjoys sharing the photos of the warm climates with co-workers, especially during the winter.
More articles from District 10: