Engineers Successful Career
For Thomas Bernhard
As one of eight
siblings, Thomas Bernhard recalls summer days when he and his brothers
helped their father with local roofing projects for the Haley Construction
Co. Their last job together was, in fact, helping install roof decking
on the buildings at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor.
"Since I have always been mechanically and mathematically-inclined,
the engineering field was a natural fit for me," said Bernhard,
assistant county engineer for the Mercer County Division of Engineering,
based in Trenton. Starting out as a senior engineering aide, Bernhard
has risen steadily through the ranks over the past 37 years. As
head of the county's bridge engineering department for the past
15 years, he oversees a 10-person staff that has handled the planning
and execution of various bridge projects such as the Quaker Bridge
Road/Assunpink Creek, Old Trenton Road/Big Bear Brook and Wall Street/Assunpink
Creek in Trenton.
County Engineer Thomas Bernhard
postsecondary education began in the late '60s. Married with two young
sons, the Ewing High School graduate worked in the growing aerospace industry
at the time as a detail draftsman for General Electric. Mercer proved
both convenient and affordable, allowing him to take civil engineering
courses at night while working during the day.
One faculty member in particular, Professor John Santosuosso, stands out
for Bernhard. Santosuosso played a pivotal role in the establishment of
Mercer's partnership with the Newark College of Engineering, a part of
the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). Through his efforts, Bernhard
was able to earn a bachelor's degree in Engineering Technology in 1985
through NJIT, taking all of his courses on Mercer's West Windsor campus.
In 1994, Bernhard earned a master's degree in Transportation Engineering
through a NJIT/NJDOT partnership.
"It was great that I never had to leave the county to pursue higher
education," Bernhard said. "You are never too old to learn;
I was 40 when I completed my bachelor's degree and 48 when I obtained
my master's degree. I received an outstanding education. I believe that
is why I scored number one on each civil service test that I have taken.
Mercer started me off in the right direction. It gave me the extra advantage
and great opportunities to advance my career."
Alumni & Friends