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Mentoring Programs Far From Pervasive
Posted by Tom Klemens on May 31, 2011 at 9:15 AM.

Do you mentor your new employees? Although widely accepted as a good approach to integrating young professionals into the workforce, a recent survey shows that mentoring programs in the architecture, engineering, planning and environmental industries are far from being the norm.
According to the online survey of industry human resources personnel for The Zweig Letter, 47% of respondents reported having a mentoring program. However, a significant number, 27%, reported that their firms don’t have such a program. Another 13% said that mentoring initiatives existed at one point. A number of firms, 7% of respondents, are discussing the idea, according to survey results.
Some difficulties in mentoring programs were also explained by one anonymous survey respondent. “We have a mentoring program but it is very informal. It needs improvement, but there never seems to be interest in helping it become a more useful tool for new employees. Time is the biggest issue. Non-chargeable time, in our industry, is not encouraged.”
A vast majority of respondents, 67%, said proteges are paired with people inside the firm. Another 33% offered other arrangements, but no one reported pairing proteges with people outside the firm.
More information and resources on the subject are available at


The value of mentoring also was addressed in the article “Changing of the Guard: How to Avoid a Leadership Shortfall,” by Joseph D. Rei and F. Leigh Branham, published in the June 2009 issue of MSC.

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Steel Shots: Big Lift III Photo Contest Winners
Posted by Tasha Weiss on May 27, 2011 at 9:44 AM.


“Going Up in the Fog,” a photo taken by Gerard Plauche of Metairie, La., was voted the People’s Choice Winner in the Huey P. Long Bridge Widening Project’s Big Lift III Photo Contest. The third and final Big Lift occurred on Saturday, April 9, 2011. Fans voted for their favorite photos on Huey P Bridge’s Facebook page at


In addition to the People’s Choice winner, a panel of project officials and a member of the New Orleans Photo Alliance chose these photos as Judges’ Choice Award winners:


Overall Award of Excellence: Viven Balsomo of Metairie, La., for a series of photos that captured emotion, people and construction in a thoughtful way (Click on the links to view the photos).
1. Down Memory Bridge
2. The Talk of the Town
3. Jeffrey Bradley in Action


Award of Merit:
Perspective, photographed by Josh LeFebvre of New Orleans.

Purple Haze, photographed by Lucille Upchurch-Noote of River Ridge, La.


The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) and Louisiana TIMED Managers (LTM) launched the Big Lift III Photo Contest to help commemorate the Huey P. Long Bridge Widening Project’s third and last bridge segment lift. For additional background about the project, check out our previous Steel in the News post here.

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New Mark Will Help Track HSS Sourcing
Posted by Tom Klemens on May 26, 2011 at 1:10 PM.

The Steel Tube Institute of North America (STINA) has launched an industry-wide Hollow Structural Section (HSS) product certification program. Called the STINA Certified Producer Program, it is designed to provide assurance that HSS identified with the Certified Producer’s Mark has been manufactured by producers who meet nationally recognized manufacturing standards, and who have passed the program’s audits and product testing.


The STINA Certified Producer Program is a voluntary program administered by Intertek and provides an identification mark for producers who pass the program’s audits and product tests.


Until now it has been nearly impossible to track the chain of supply of HSS, which may have been produced anywhere in the world and traveled through a series of distribution channels before reaching the project site. The Certified Producer Program creates a system to authenticate and certify the testing procedures and documentation that accompany the product, ensuring customers that the HSS they are specifying and buying has been made to the various standards that they are expecting.


The HSS certification process will include an engineering evaluation of each of the participating companies’ manufacturing locations and the testing of sample tubes that have been produced at the participating companies’ mills at Intertek’s Verification Center.


For more information on HSS production, visit


For more on using HSS in structural applications, go to


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Iowa DOT Adds Rolled Steel Beam Standards
Posted by Tasha Weiss on May 25, 2011 at 8:55 AM.

The Iowa DOT has added a series of RS40-10 rolled steel beam bridge standards to its acceptable bridge design configurations. These off-the-shelf standards make it easier for bridge engineers to specify steel beams and are expected to drive better costs from fabricators as designs are built from standard templates, as well as reducing overall maintenance through the use of integral abutments, weathering steel girders and low maintenance bearings.


Developed by Stanley Consultants in cooperation with the Iowa DOT, the new RS40-10 rolled steel beam bridge standards replace the previous short span design standards. The new standards cover multiple spans for bridges up to 340 ft long and include base sheets and bridge standards designed for LRFD specifications. The standards cover pile bent piers, tee piers, skew bridges (0 degrees, 10 degrees, 20 degrees, 30 degrees and 45 degrees), 160-ft to 340-ft bridge lengths and symmetrical/asymmetrical 40-ft-wide bridge decks.


Although engineers still have to deal with geometry and coordination, the templates provide as much as 90% of the design and should reduce design and construction time. For example, to call out a specific bridge, the bridge engineer puts together a cover sheet that references the appropriate bridge standard sheet numbers. Follow-up sheets might include upgrades to substructures and foundations. The contractor pulls these same sheets from the website to determine quantities.


The DOT believes these standards should allow contractors and fabricators to develop consistent techniques and practices that will produce economies of scale and drive greater competition. Furthermore, the standardization of bridge design components should give all parties confidence in the performance and durability of bridges constructed throughout Iowa.


The Rolled Steel Beam Bridge Standards can be found at (scroll to the bottom of the page). These standards join other Iowa DOT bridge designs, all of which use standards defined by the DOT and are approved by the state’s chief bridge engineer. They also are available to county engineers.  


For additional information from the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance, go to

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Steel Estimating Handbook
Posted by Tasha Weiss on May 24, 2011 at 9:17 AM.

cover_web1.jpgWritten by Kerri S. Olsen, The Art and Science of Steel Estimating – Beginning Fundamentals is a comprehensive and easy-to-use reference guide for construction professionals. It is designed specifically for someone who knows nothing about steel or steel fabrication and includes detailed information on steel materials, steel fabrication labor including painting and handling, reading contract drawings and specifications, fabrication pricing, and writing the bid letter.


Reflecting a body of knowledge that can be acquired only by years of experience, this volume is a compilation of the lessons learned throughout the author’s 30 years in the structural steel industry. With a focus on the trade of steel estimating, the book guides the reader through all aspects of the craft, explaining in detail the how and why of the work that is to be performed. Chapters include:

  • The Steel Estimator
  • The Pricing Breakdown
  • The Bid Letter
  • The Bid Documents
  • The Contract Drawings
  • The Steel Materials
  • Reading the Structural Drawing
  • Structural Steel Material Listing
  • Reading Architectural Drawings
  •  Fabrication Labor
  • Paint and Painting
  • Shipping and Handling

For more information or to order, go to

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Lakehead, Hawaii-Manoa, Michigan Tech Dominate 20th Anniversary Competition
Posted by Tom Klemens on May 23, 2011 at 11:50 AM.

Teams from the first and last heats in Saturday’s 2011 National Student Steel Bridge Competition emerged as two of the big winners, as one of the original steel bridge competitors also made an impressive comeback.


Lakehead University 2011 NSSBC

The Lakehead University team competed in the first heat, along with four other teams, and turned in the day’s fastest construction time of 4.74 minutes. Lakehead’s bridge also placed first in the efficiency category, second in economy, and took first place in the overall scoring.


At just 141 lb, Lakehead’s bridge was the lightest this year, followed by the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s 156-lb structure.


Hawaii-Manoa NSSBC 2011Hawaii-Manoa drew the 48th slot in the competition order, which meant they didn’t construct their bridge until some time after 6:30 p.m. Their bridge took first place in the stiffness category with an aggregate deflection score of just 0.264 in. That combined with being the second lightest bridge in the competition to earn a second place award in efficiency. The Hawaii-Manoa bridge also took second place in the display category, right behind first place Georgia Institute of Technology.


Mechigan Tech NSSBC 2011Michigan Technological University also emerged with multiple awards this year. Michigan Tech which was one of three schools in the first years of competition but did not make it to the finals last year. The school’s 2011 bridge placed second in construction speed (with a time of 5.45 minutes), third in economy and efficiency, and ranked second overall.


The final scores for the 2011 competition are available at through a link in the Rules & Results column.


To see a video of the Lakehead University team performing its award-winning assembly, go to


This year marks the 20th National Student Steel Bridge Competition. AISC, which supported the competition in its early years, remains its primary sponsor with ASCE as primary co-sponsor. Industry sponsors this year include Bentley Systems, DSS Solidworks Corp., Nucor, the National Steel Bridge Alliance, the James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation, the American Iron and Steel Institute, the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction, and the Steel Structures Education Foundation.


Mark your calendars for May 25-26, 2012, when Clemson University will host the next National Student Steel Bridge Competition finals.

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Steel Shots: Lots O’ Innovation at The Steel Conference
Posted by Tasha Weiss on May 20, 2011 at 9:17 AM.


Last week’s NASCC in Pittsburgh offered plenty of new learning opportunities and interactive technologies for its 3,263 attendees. Whether you were a seasoned attendee (some told us they have more than 50 annual steel conferences under their belt), a first-timer, or a student looking to enter the industry, there was something new for everyone (even a new NASCC Mobile App!). The photo collage above shows some of the many highlights from the show (See below for more information about each photo).

A) 89 students participated in the new Student Program (p. 40 in the Final Program) at NASCC to explore career opportunities in structural engineering and learn practical tips on finding jobs and developing as leaders. They took a guided tour through the exhibit hall and could network one-on-one with industry experts from design and construction companies around North America in a special “Direct Connect” student session.


B) Attendees received a live demonstration of a Steelmax abrasive belt grinder at the company’s booth in the exhibit hall. The tool quickly and efficiently grinds and polishes metals to the required dimension on a large surface grinding table. (Although it may not appear this way in the photo, the machine operates at a low noise level).


C) Burlington Automation offered a live demonstration of a project fabricated using the PythonX, a structural steel fabrication system that uses automated 3D fabrication to process beams, channels, HSS, angle, plate and bar, in a single pass by the precision of the technology. (Notice the precision of the python shapes on the project).


D) Attendees stopped by the Lincoln Electric booth in the exhibit hall to try their hand at welding with the VRTEX 360, a virtual reality arc welding training tool where you slip on a modified welding helmet, pick up a welder, and experience the closest thing to being in the field. The combination of a realistic puddle simulation and arc welding sound—all tied to the welder’s movement—provides a realistic simulation of a hands-on experience (To get a feel for the experience, visit and search for VRTEX 360). You can even “see” sparks, slag, grinding and weld cooling!


Mark your calendar now for next year when the 2012 NASCC: The Steel Conference will be in Grapevine, Texas, from April 18-21.

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Call for Entries for Hot Technology Products
Posted by Tasha Weiss on May 19, 2011 at 10:43 AM.

If you were at NASCC: The Steel Conference in Pittsburgh last week and had a chance to explore the many cool products and technologies featured in the exhibit hall, we want to hear about the technology products you think are HOT! Encourage those exhibitors to enter Modern Steel Construction’s new Hot Technology Product contest. This new category joins the annual Hot Products feature that has been an MSC offering for more than 10 years.


The Hot Technology Products category will emphasize products that focus on improving efficiency and increasing integration through the use of computer technology. Beyond that distinction, similar guidelines apply to both Hot Product and Hot Technology Product entries:


  • The product must have been introduced (or significantly enhanced) within the last 12 months.
  • The entry can be part of an existing product (new feature or function) or it can be a standalone product.
  • Special consideration will be given to products that may help toward innovative and new ways of working, collaborating.


Entries in both categories will be judged internally based only on descriptions, submissions and claims by the submitting company - no product testing or evaluation will be performed.


Winners will be announced in the August issue of MSC and will receive plaques.


Entry deadline for the competition is next Friday, May 27. Submit all entries, questions and comments to Information about the contest and entry forms can be found at

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Student Steel Bridge Competition in Just 2 Days
Posted by Tasha Weiss on May 18, 2011 at 3:55 PM.

nssbc_logo.jpgThe 20th National Student Steel Bridge Competition finals will be held at Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, on May 20-21, 2011. Drop in Reed Arena from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday to see the action if you’re in the area – admission is free. Visit the Texas A&M Host website for more information.


Congratulations from AISC to all of the schools and teams that participated in the 2011 Regional Steel Student Bridge Competitions. This year 201 teams competed from throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and China. Good luck to the 48 teams that have qualified to attend the National Student Steel Bridge Competition, where they will be challenged to assemble their small-scale pre-designed and fabricated bridges in the shortest time and under specific building constraints, aka “the rules.”


Here is the list of qualifying teams in competition order:


1. University of Alaska - Fairbanks
2. Lakehead University
3. University of Michigan
4. Drexel University
5. South Dakota School of Mines
6. Georgia Institute of Technology
7. Lafayette College
8. New Jersey Institute of Technology
9. University of British Columbia
10. The Cooper Union
11. The Citadel
12. Arkansas State University
13. Pennsylvania State University
14. Iowa State University
15. Michigan Technological University
16. University of Wisconsin - Madison
17. California Polytechnic State University
18. University of South Florida
19. Colorado School of Mines
20. Texas A&M University
21. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
22. Catholic University of America
23. California State University, Long Beach
24. University of Tennessee - Knoxville
25. San Jose State University
26. University of Minnesota
27. Louisiana Tech University
28. Washington State University
29. University of Illinois - Chicago
30. Milwaukee School of Engineering
31. Youngstown State University
32. Southern Polytechnic State University
33. University of Nebraska - Lincoln
34. Universidad LaSalle Cuernavaca
35. Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
36. University of Texas - Austin
37. University of Kansas
38. University of Akron
39. Geneva College
40. Kansas State University
41. University at Buffalo
42. University of Texas – El Paso
43. University of New Hampshire
44. Utah State University
45. SUNY Canton
46. Wentworth Institute of Tech
47. University of California – Berkeley
48. University of Hawaii - Manoa


To learn more about this year’s national finals on the AISC website, go to The bridges will be on display Friday afternoon from 3-5 p.m. at the Brazos County Expo Center. The main competition is Saturday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. in Reed Arena. Visitors are welcome!

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New Names for Gerdau’s North American Operations
Posted by Tasha Weiss on May 18, 2011 at 10:46 AM.

110-years-gerdau_200.jpgAs part of Gerdau’s 110-year anniversary celebration and global re-branding efforts, the worldwide steel supplier’s long steel and and special steel operations in North America, Gerdau Ameristeel and Gerdau Macsteel, will now be known as Gerdau. To differentiate the parent company from its two business operations, AISC member Gerdau Ameristeel is now Gerdau Long Steel North America and Gerdau Macsteel is now Gerdau Special Steel North America.


The new North American brands come with new website addresses: replaces and replaces

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