When they were children, Diane, Linda and Nancy Bridwell’s family vacations revolved around bridges.
They didn’t mind.
It was a fascination fed by their father, John Bridwell of Lexington, who had begun his career as a civil engineer in 1961, as America began its frenzy of building its interstate highway system. Bridwell’s expertise was bridges, and he wanted to see projects he’d designed as well as the work of other civil engineers.
Thirty years later, the daughters of John Bridwell continue to be fascinated by structures and the issues involved with engineering – so much so that they now are professional civil engineers. All three – Diane Zimmerman of Prospect, Nancy Albright and Linda Bridwell, both of Lexington – hold civil engineering degrees from the University of Kentucky College of Engineering.
For the Bridwell sisters, the trek toward engineering careers began in Diane’s Lexington elementary school classroom.
“Dad would go to work in the office and come home at night. I didn’t know what he did, until he came to my fourth-grade class and talked about what civil engineers do.“
“From the fourth grade on, I told people I wanted to be a civil engineer,” she says.
Nancy, the youngest, was drawn to the profession as much by her sisters as by her father.
At family gatherings, Nancy would hear Diane talking about her work as a traffic planning engineer with Jordan, Jones & Goulding of Norcross, Ga. and Linda’s involvement with Kentucky American Water company projects to secure adequate water supplies for residential and commercial customers.
”I thought it looked like they were doing interesting things,” Nancy says.
Today, Nancy is director of maintenance for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, where she oversees contracts totaling more than $250 million a year for road repair.
“Everything that needs to be repaired between the right-of-way lines is what my division takes care of,” Nancy says.
“I’m sometimes surprised,” John Bridwell says, when asked about his daughters’ decision to follow his footsteps. He’s also been amused and pleased as the years have passed.
“There was a time when my girls would be asked, ‘Oh, you’re John Bridwell’s daughters?’ Nowadays, I’m asked if I’m Diane, Linda or Nancy’s father,” he says.
“I give most of the credit to my wife, Charlene. She was willing to put up with my wanting to go see this, that or the other” during family vacations that subtly nurtured his daughters’ career choices.