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Steel Shots: Inside “The Bird’s Nest”
Posted by Tasha Weiss on September 28, 2012 at 1:45 PM.


An inside view of the 2008 Olympic Stadium designed by artist Weiwei Ai. The stadium is commonly known as “The Bird’s Nest” and is constructed with massive steel columns bended and arranged in an absolute random pattern. In this picture, massive steel columns seem to fall out of the sky straight into the ground, raying in a random order. Standing in between them is like being in a natural crystals cave, having amazing spatial experience. The three people in the background provide a perspective of the size of these steel columns. Photo and description by Xiaolong Li.


The winning photo in AISC’s 2012 SteelDay Student Photo Contest was taken by Xiaolong Li, a civil engineering and economics student at Bucknell University. Li captured an inside view of the National Stadium (also known as “The Bird’s Nest”) in Beijing, China, which was designed for use throughout the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.


For more information about the project and additional photos of the stadium, visit Arup’s website (the structural engineer for the project) at (direct link:


You can also view the photo entries that received Honorable Mentions in the contest by visiting We’ll be featuring them as Steel Shots on the MSC website throughout the fall.


We want to wish everybody a Happy SteelDay! About 170 events are taking place throughout the country to celebrate the structural steel industry. Whether you partake in a facility tour, sit in on a BIM seminar or attend a networking event, we hope you enjoy this once-a-year opportunity to learn about the U.S. structural steel industry from the experts — and have fun!


(Also, come back on Monday morning at 10 a.m. CST for our September Steel Structure Trivia challenge!)

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Insights from Nolan Bushnell at PKM’s SteelDay Event
Posted by Tasha Weiss on September 27, 2012 at 3:39 PM.


Tomorrow, September 28, marks the structural steel industry’s fourth annual SteelDay! Hosted by AISC, its members and partners, it’s expected to be celebrated at about 170 event locations all over the country and offers free educational and networking opportunities for the design and construction community and the public. Some pre-SteelDay events also took place this past week and kicked off the national festivities, including an event for the entire community at PKM Steel Service, Inc. (an AISC member/AISC certified fabricator) in Salina, Kan. (which drew in about 2,500 people!) steelday-2012-pkm_nolan_sitn3.jpg


In addition to tours of PKM’s facilities and more than 100 vendor booths on site, the event featured several entrepreneurial speakers including Nolan Bushnell, founder of the Atari Corporation, known as the “father of the video game industry” and one of the few people to have hired the late Steve Jobs.


AISC’s Victoria Cservenyak and Tasha Weiss had the opportunity to interview Bushnell at the event about his views on teamwork, innovation and other topics that apply to the structural steel industry and the success of all companies. Here is the interview, provided by Cservenyak:


Q: You spoke in your lecture about teamwork. What are some tips on inspiring teamwork amongst specifiers, fabricators, contractors and the rest of the project team?


A: Teamwork is really about mutual trust. That’s really the glue that lets a team work together. If you’re not confident the other person can do their job, then you don’t feel good about delegating that job to them. So the first thing you have to do is build this common glue of trust. The next thing is, nobody needs or should be greedy. It turns out that everybody feels good about proper pay for proper work. If somebody is taking all of the margin, then the teamwork fails. You also have to share risk. Every project has some corner risk and it’s important to share that. All those things, when properly put together, produce some wonderful outputs with the team that shares risk, rewards, capabilities, diversity. It’s wonderful.


Q: You’re writing a book about creativity in business – can you give examples of your “pongs” [the rules in his book are called “pongs” in honor of the video game he invented] or rules for business that would apply to the steel industry/workers?


A: Basically all of them (laughs) apply. I would say that the most important ones have to do with action. Action is the most important one. Most companies have a lot of creative people and a lot of people who have good ideas. But they just never get put into production, they never get used. I think that the more a company tries things, the better. Look for how can you do five percent of your work, five percent of your research, five percent of design on nutty ideas. New stuff just always seems a little bit nutty because you know what you did last year and you were comfortable with it. Things that are new are a little bit scary. So, you have to be willing to face your fears, do things that are a little different and every once in a while you will be surprised. And that crazy product that you thought was the nutty one becomes the most important part of your business. Remember, Apple Computer was in the computer business (“why do they have this little music player?”) which led to the iPhone, iPad, and a whole ecosystem of iTunes and an app store, which is much bigger than the computer part of their business. The crazy product became the dominant product. And that happens over and over again.


Q: What are your thoughts on Alan Kay’s famous quote: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it?”


A: I’ve lived that quote all my life. It turns out that making the future happen is really, really fun. I’m a big reader of science fiction and I so much want to live there. A lot of times I’m just going to have to invent it.


Q: What advice would you give to young engineers or entrepreneurs?


A: I think that the best advice is to be active. Do different things, learn different things. Go to different places, different trade shows. Try to be the sponge that soaks up the world and does things differently. The more you do different things, the bigger your brain gets and the more you have this sort of foundation of ideas to put underneath your ideas. That makes you more successful.


Q: Do you have anything else that you would like to add?


A: I think that the most important thing is for everyone to be a lifelong learner. I think that today the world is changing so quickly that if you’re not learning something new every day, every week, every month that you will find yourself obsolete without even knowing it. And you may think that you’re five years from retirement and everything’s fine and you don’t have to learn anymore. But by having that attitude, it means that your brain is actually decaying. If you’re not doing different things and learning different things, your brain will break much earlier, whether it’s dementia or Alzheimer’s etc., and that’s not fun. Growing old with a bad brain is really an ugly thing.


Victoria Cservenyak, AISC Digital Content Editor


Happy SteelDay, everyone! (And for those making last-minute SteelDay plans, visit to find and register for an event near you!)

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Call for Papers: 2013 Pacific Structural Steel Conference
Posted by Tasha Weiss on September 25, 2012 at 4:59 PM.

The Singapore Structural Steel Society is accepting abstract submissions for the 10th Pacific Structural Steel Conference, to be held in Singapore from October 8-11, 2013.


The conference brings together expertise in structural steel research, education and construction from all around the Pacific Rim and beyond to promote cooperation among structural steel associations and communication on development in the field of steel structures in Pacific countries.


Authors are requested to submit abstracts of a maximum of 250 words on structural steel research and design topics by January 31, 2013. Authors will be notified of their abstract acceptance by April and will be required to submit a final paper (of not more than two pages) by June 1.


For more information and to submit an abstract online, go to

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Gerdau Reuses 220 Billion Gallons of Water in First Half of 2012
Posted by Tasha Weiss on September 24, 2012 at 4:29 PM.

Gerdau (an AISC member) recently announced that it has reused 220 billion gallons of water in the first half of 2012. This is sufficient to supply the New York metropolitan area (with an estimated population of 19 million) for one year, considering an average daily consumption of 33 gallons per person. Their goal for 2012 is to surpass the 97% average water recirculation rate achieved last year at its steel production plants around the world.


This year’s milestone resulted from ongoing investment in modern water treatment and recirculation systems used in the industrial process at all Gerdau mills. With these systems, the water used is treated with advanced technologies that allow its reuse and a significant reduction in water consumption. The small amount of water that is not reused (3% of the total) corresponds mainly to losses from evaporation.


Since 2010, the company has been working to develop a water balance model that involves more than 50 environmental experts from the company worldwide. The project, scheduled for completion in 2015, aims at reducing the volume of water captured for steel production and increasing the water recirculation rate.



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Steel Shots: Sculptural Fence
Posted by Tasha Weiss on September 21, 2012 at 1:00 PM.


Designed by Archer & Buchanan Architecture, Ltd., for a home in Berwyn, Pa., the “COR-TEN Cattails” fence is made of 300, 10-ft steel blades, set upright at 8 in. apart. The project was fabricated by O’Rourke & Sons, Inc., an AISC member/AISC certified fabricator in West Chester, Pa. Photo: Tom Crane


It may not look like your average residential fence but, believe or not, this elegant steel yard sculpture also keeps the deer out.


Designed by Archer & Buchanan Architecture, Ltd., for a home in Berwyn, Pa., the sculptural fence is made of 300, 10-ft steel blades, set upright at 8 in. apart, and was erected in April.


“The fence design was inspired by the house that it surrounds, which we designed in 2002,” said Peter Archer, AIA, of Archer & Buchanan. “It weaves through the property, appearing solid or reed-thin depending upon the perspective.”


The fence is made of COR-TEN, a steel alloy that eliminates the need for painting and maintains a rich, dark rust color without corroding. Fabricated by O’Rourke & Sons, Inc., (an AISC member/AISC certified fabricator) in West Chester, Pa., the fence stanchions were cut with a plasma cutter from sheets of the alloy. The gate stanchions were cut and then welded to solid machined steel bars.

Rising like wetland plants, the simple, curving fence was dubbed “COR-TEN Cattails” by the design firm. Each blade stands eight feet above grade, set in concrete 3 ft below, weighs 80-90 lbs and is 5/8 in. thick. The profile of the blades is an irregular trapezoid with no horizontal connections or supports. Only the gate has two horizontal bars, and each leaf weighs 1,200 lbs.


The project design was recently honored by the Society of American Registered Architects, Pennsylvania Council.

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SteelDay One Week Away!
Posted by Tasha Weiss on September 20, 2012 at 3:27 PM.

steelday_text_only.jpgOnly one week left until the structural steel industry’s fourth annual SteelDay, Friday, September 28. Have you made your plans yet? If you haven’t registered for an event yet, there’s still time!


Visit to find and register for a free event in your area. This year’s national event is expected to be celebrated at almost 170 locations around the country and, once again, offers free educational and networking opportunities for the design and construction community and the public.


Here are some other key updates and reminders:


  • The governors of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island and West Virginia have recognized the value and importance of the structural steel industry in their respective states with an official proclamation of September 28, 2012, as SteelDay. (A great reason to celebrate!)


  • On SteelDay Eve (September 27), AISC is offering a free live webinar on “50 Tips for Designing Constructable Steel Buildings,” presented by Clifford Schwinger, P.E., vice president at The Harman Group, Inc., King of Prussia, Pa. This 1.5-hour webinar provides 50 practical and easy-to-implement tips that designers can use to improve constructability and reduce costs on steel-framed building structures. Click here for more information and to register.


  • Attention students! Time is running out to enter AISC’s SteelDay Student Photo Contest. Full-time students are encouraged to submit a photo that best pictorially celebrates the visual experience of steel. The winning submissions will be selected as weekly “Steel Shots” to be posted to the MSC website. One grand prize winner will receive a digital photo frame and be published in an upcoming issue of MSC. Entries are due by this Saturday, September 22. For more information and to download an application form or submit your entry, go to


  • The twelve sculpture entries (created by AISC full and associate members) for the second annual SteelDay Sculpture Competition are now posted to the SteelDay Facebook fanpage for public viewing and voting. The top five sculptures with the most “likes” by the end of SteelDay, September 28, will be sent to the 2013 NASCC: The Steel Conference in St. Louis (April 17-19), where they’ll exhibited for show attendees to vote on the ultimate winner. Become a SteelDay fan on Facebook and vote for your favorites!


For more information on SteelDay, visit

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Interact with NSBA Live Online at LoTrans 2012
Posted by Tasha Weiss on September 19, 2012 at 2:21 PM.

Today and tomorrow, the National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA) is exhibiting at the LoTrans 2012 Virtual Conference & Innovation Showcase, hosted by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA). This free virtual conference brings education and a real-time exhibition experience to the desktops of city and county government officials who manage transportation infrastructure investments and operations.


Anyone can register, and the conference is free to attend. Simply register at and visit the NSBA booth to chat with staff and learn more about SIMON software for preliminary bridge design and other technical tools.


In addition, David Clemens of Wheeler LLC (an AISC/NSBA member, AISC certified fabricator and a member of the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance) is giving a virtual presentation on “Innovations in Steel Bridge Technology” today at the Roads and Bridges booth (click on his presentation to listen at any time), and a live Q&A session with him at 4:30 p.m. EST.


To view the virtual conference agenda, click here.

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Video: Milton-Madison Second Span Lift
Posted by Tasha Weiss on September 18, 2012 at 12:51 PM.

mm-bridge-lift-copy.jpgThe second “big lift” for the Milton-Madison Bridge Project, which replaces the deteriorating US 421 Ohio River bridge between Milton, Ky., and Madison, Ind., was completed last week. A time-lapse video shows the 15-hour operation during which a 727-ft preassembled section of the steel truss was floated and lifted into place onto temporary piers.


The span weighs 2,067 tons (or 4.1 million lbs.) and was lifted to a height of 90 ft using special hydraulic jacks and bundled strands of steel cable. The last step in the lift process involved the intricate placement of a massive beam under the new span. The beam will be used next year when the entire truss bridge is slid from the temporary piers to the existing piers, which are being rehabbed and reused. The new bridge is expected to open to traffic in 2013.


For more information about the project, visit The article “Move That Bridge” in the February 2012  issue of MSC also describes the project in detail and explains how the decision to use an innovative sliding technique stemmed from the system’s success on the Capilano River Bridge project in Vancouver, Canada.

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AISC to Release New Bridge Certification Rules and Regulations
Posted by Tasha Weiss on September 17, 2012 at 4:26 PM.

AISC will post the new rules and regulations for its updated Bridge Quality Management System (QMS) Certification Program on Monday, October 1. In addition to the new Standard for Steel Bridges – 2011 (AISC 205-11), this criteria will increase the requirements a participant must meet to become certified or maintain their current certification.


Previously, companies were audited to a checklist, which was intended to demonstrate they had created the required management and quality procedures. The updated program is designed to ensure that companies don’t just say they have procedures in place but are actually following them.


“This program change will better communicate to owners, specifiers and others in the construction industry what the QMS Certification Program provides in terms of quality and expectation,” said Jacques Cattan, AISC vice president of certification.


The AISC Quality Management System Certification Program is similar to the more widely known ISO 9000 program, but is designed specifically to examine the unique requirements of steel fabricators. Similar to ISO, the goal of the AISC QMS program is to embed a quality management system within an organization to increase productivity, which helps to reduce unnecessary costs and ensure the quality of processes. The result is a better quality product without the need for special inspection.


The transition between the current “Simple and Major Bridge Checklists” and new bridge standard will be complete on July 1, 2014. After this time, “Simple Bridge” and “Major Bridge” will no longer be valid AISC Certification categories, and the design community will be able to specify a certified bridge fabricator to one of the three AISC QMS Certified Fabricator options under the Bridge QMS Certification category: Simple Bridges, Intermediate Bridges, and Advanced Bridges.


For the latest program updates and other key dates, visit, which includes additional information and resources. If you have additional questions or comments, please contact AISC’s Certification Department at

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Steel Shots: Birth of a Steel Centurion
Posted by Tasha Weiss on September 14, 2012 at 11:22 AM.


A future steel centurion is born! The Big Rock Interchange (I-430/I-630) rebuilding project in Little Rock, Ark., last month displayed AISC’s “Steel Centurion” emblem in a banner on one of its massive steel plate girders, which read “Birth of Another 100 Year Steel Bridge.” (Click on the photo for a closer look at the banner.) The sign is a celebration of the durability and strength of steel bridges as well as the commitment to remain in service for more than a century. Photo: Gorman Photography


The Big Rock Interchange (I-430/I-630) rebuilding project in Little Rock, Ark., last month completed a 20-day accelerated construction phase, which required seven traffic lane shifts to install more than three dozen massive steel plate girders that provide the framework for the interchange’s new flyover ramps.


Two 500-ton cranes were brought in to lift the 9-ft-deep plate girders into place. Because of their weight and size, each crane was assembled on-site, requiring a total of 16 additional semi tractor-trailers to carry parts and other support equipment.


The steel plate girders were fabricated by W&W/AFCO Steel, an AISC member/AISC certified fabricator. The project’s general contractor is the joint venture team of Manhattan Road & Bridge and Weaver-Bailey Contractors.


The original interchange opened in 1977. Traffic volumes on I-430 and I-630 in the vicinity of the interchange have quadrupled since. The construction work underway to modify the interchange will more efficiently accommodate current and projected traffic volumes.


For information about the Big Rock Interchange project, visit the Arkansas
State Highway and Transportation Department website


Want to learn more about existing U.S. Steel Centurions? You’ll find them in MSC. The quarterly series offers a testament to notable accomplishments of prior generations and celebrates the durability and strength of steel by showcasing bridges more than 100 years old that are still in service today. The latest Steel Centurion, the Erie Canal Bridge, is featured in this month’s issue. Click here to read the article.

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