Modern Steel Construction » Steel in the News » October 2012

Archive for October 2012

Back to all posts

New Licensing System for Steel Design and Calculation Software
Posted by Tasha Weiss on October 31, 2012 at 4:58 PM.

Structural software developer CSC has implemented a new licensing system for all of its core products, including its steel design software, Fastrak and Orion, and its structural calculation software, Tedds. The new system offers users greater flexibility for working remotely and accessing essential management data.


With a variety of licensing options available, customers can choose whether to lock their license to a single PC, move the license around using a hardware key or network licenses across a single office (LAN) or multiple offices or regions (WAN).


In response to customer feedback, CSC has added the option for users to work away from the office by commuting their license from their server to a local computer for a limited period; users can disconnect their computer from the network and continue to use the software remotely.


The new system’s license activation is also quicker. Users can activate multiple products online instantly and use real-time monitoring to ensure that they have the correct number of licenses for their business.


For more information about CSC’s new licensing system, visit

Bookmark and Share

As Construction Rebounds, More Skilled Workers are Needed
Posted by Tasha Weiss on October 30, 2012 at 3:32 PM.

The construction industry’s slow climb out of a long and deep recession will continue into next year, according to McGraw-Hill Construction’s 2013 forecast. Released at the company’s annual Outlook conference last week in Washington, D.C., the report predicts construction starts to rise six percent to $483.7 billion.


So what does the future hold for construction jobs? According to a similar report issued earlier this month by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), construction employers added 5,000 jobs between August and September, while the industry’s unemployment rate hit 11.9 percent. AGC’s officials caution that construction employment has been relatively flat for more than a year, as growing demand for residential and some commercial projects has been offset by declining public sector construction activity.


“Despite the slight uptick in construction employment for the past month, the industry is a bit smaller than it was one year ago,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC’s chief executive officer. “It appears that for every rebounding market segment, there is another one that is shrinking.”


Nonresidential building contractors added 1,100 jobs in September but have lost 12,400 during the past 12 months. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 1,500 jobs for the month but lost 30,000 for the year. And the heavy and civil engineering construction sector lost 200 jobs in September but has added 14,600 since September 2011.


Sandherr also noted that more than two million former construction workers have left the industry, either to retire or for other jobs in faster-growing sectors. As a result, the industry will have a hard time finding skilled workers once construction demand rebounds. He added that federal tax and spending uncertainties are making it difficult for firms to encourage people to consider careers in construction.


“Becoming a skilled construction worker requires months of training and practice,” Sandherr noted. “It is hard to get new workers to start months of training for jobs that may not be there next year if firms are paying more in taxes and earning less on public projects.”


The shortage comes at a particularly inopportune time, as the construction industry is projected to have one of the fastest U.S. industry job growths through this decade and add nearly 1.3 million new jobs by 2018. The industry needs to attract about 185,000 new workers annually to keep up with the current employment demand.


New worker recruitment is crucial to avoid a net shortage of skilled construction workers in the coming years. One of the challenges is that many students today don’t realize there are advanced educational and training programs and good-paying career opportunities available in the trades.


One program hoping to tackle this challenge is the Build Your Future national educational and recruitment campaign. Organized by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), the program connects youth and displaced workers with career opportunities in construction and includes resources for prospective ironworkers and welders.


Part of the Build Your Future campaign is Careers in Construction Week, happening now through the end of this week, which is designed to increase public awareness of the hard work and contributions of our nation’s craft professionals and increase students’ interest in pursuing construction as a career.    


Various schools, contractors and organizations are partnering locally to host construction career events and programs during this week. These events allow students to speak directly to potential employers, and contractors can start a dialogue with potential employees.


For more information about this week’s events, visit To learn more about the Build Your Future campaign, visit

Bookmark and Share

AISC’s John Cross Named Finalist in 2012 Chicago CFO of the Year Awards
Posted by Tasha Weiss on October 29, 2012 at 3:21 PM.

john-cross-professional-photo_300.jpgJohn Cross, P.E., vice president of market development and finance for AISC, was recently named a finalist in the 2012 Chicago CFO of the Year Awards by the Financial Executives International (FEI) Chicago Chapter. The Chicago CFO of the Year Awards honor financial leaders who have made contributions to a Chicago business or non-profit, with quality, insight and direction.


“John has brought outstanding leadership to AISC in reaching our financial and marketing goals,” said AISC president Roger E. Ferch, P.E. “His most compelling attribute is that he is a visionary with a positive attitude who acts strategically for a better future. He leads his staff by achieving their buy-in and overcoming the challenges of past practices and attitudes that resist change.”


Cross joined AISC in 2001 and was named vice president of marketing in 2003. For the past four years he has also led AISC’s finance department. Under his leadership, AISC successfully implemented significant financial changes as a result of restructuring its parent and subsidiary organizations in 2009, and has greatly improved its monthly budget reports and quarterly financial forecasts. Cross has also guided AISC through the largest collapse of the construction market since the Great Depression and helped the organization emerge in a stronger position, and without staff cuts.


Concurrently, Cross has led AISC’s marketing efforts in increasing the market share of structural steel construction, which has grown from 55% to 58% in the past four years. In addition, he oversaw the inauguration of SteelDay in 2009. Hosted by AISC, its members and partners in the structural steel industry, SteelDay is a national event featuring free educational and networking opportunities for the design and construction community and the general public. This past September, the fourth annual SteelDay attracted more than 10,000 attendees.


Cross has been involved in the Chicago and national engineering community for the past 40 years and previously served as executive vice president of STS Consultants and regional vice president for Beling Consultants. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a master of divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and a MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management. He has served as a member of the National Board of Advisors and the Commission on the Future at Rose-Hulman and the Board of Directors of People International USA.


He has also authored more than 50 publications on various industry topics, including material volatility, design-build, steel fabrication, information systems, slope stability analysis, hydroelectric power development, microprocessor-enabled remote monitoring and control, parking structures and multi-story residential projects. He is the co-author of Innovations in Structural Steel: Open Deck Steel-Framed Parking Structures.


Cross was selected as a finalist in the “Not for Profit Entities” category of the 2012 Chicago CFO of the Year Awards. Other finalists in this category include Carol Crenshaw of The Chicago Community Trust; Jim Croft of the Field Museum of Natural History; Peter J. McCanna of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare; and Laura Skarnulis of the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, Inc.


The 2012 Chicago CFO of the Year winners will be honored at an awards gala this Thursday, November 1, at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile. For more information about the awards, visit

Bookmark and Share

Steel Structure Trivia: Born on Halloween
Posted by Tasha Weiss on October 26, 2012 at 11:13 AM.


Here’s MSC’s October Steel Structure Trivia question! The steel drawbridge pictured above is the youngest of Chicago’s downtown bridges and is the first of the city’s bascules to use box girders instead of trusses to support the leaves. The bridge also celebrates its 30th anniversary this Wednesday on Halloween. Your challenge is to name this Chicago Loop bridge. Photo: Courtesy of


The steel drawbridge pictured above is Chicago’s North Columbus Drive Bridge (also known as the William Peter Fahey Bridge). Congratulations to Chris Baer, P.E., a structural design engineer with Kolberg-Pioneer, Inc., in Yankton, S.D., on being the first and only person to supply the correct answer!


Opened to traffic on October 31, 1982, Chicago’s youngest downtown river crossing will turn 30 this Wednesday on Halloween. The christening of the Columbus Drive/William Peter Fahey Bridge was marked by a brunch for dignitaries, hosted by Mayor Jane Byrne at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the bridge. The family of William Fahey, a Chicago police officer killed in the line of duty in February of 1982, was in the first car to cross the bridge. A plaque honoring Officer Fahey can be found on the northeast corner of the bridge.


Columbus Drive was a key piece in the master plan to provide another north-south traffic link across the river between Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. This link improved traffic flow and accessibility between the growing Illinois Center and Streeterville areas. In addition, it became the detour that minimized traffic impacts of the Lake Shore Drive realignment project that followed later in the decade.


This bridge used the basic concepts of a Chicago-type fixed trunnion bascule bridge with up-to-date features of the modern era. It is the first of the downtown bascules to use box girders instead of trusses to support the leaves. Technological advances in steel and its fabrication allowed the bridge designers to keep all structural support below the bridge deck — an aesthetic goal for downtown bridges dating back to the city’s 1909 Plan of Chicago.


The Columbus Drive Bridge was in service for about five months when three of the four gears used to raise the bridge were found to be either cracked or broken; it took approximately six months to repair the bridge. Repairs could have been made with the bridge in the down position, allowing traffic use. However, maritime law in effect on the Chicago River at the time gave preference to waterborne traffic, which meant repairs had to be made with the bridge leaves raised–much to the chagrin of the landlubbers. The bridge was lowered for traffic and reopened in October 1983.


The bridge was also designated a Moveable Span Prize Bridge by AISC in 1984. (To learn more about AISC’s Prize Bridge Awards, visit



For more information about the Columbus Drive Bridge, contact Jim Phillips (who provided this commentary, along with Albert Baker, assistant chief engineer of the Columbus Drive Bridge) at 312.540.0696, or visit his website. There you’ll find additional photos and videos of the bridge being raised, as well as engineering drawings. At the website’s left-hand column, you’ll also find multimedia pages for other Chicago Loop bridges.


You can test your steel structure knowledge right here on our MSC website on the last Friday of each month, where a new photo will be posted to the Steel in the News section as our weekly “Steel Shot.” Your challenge is to correctly answer the trivia question provided in the news post, based on what you see in the photo. The next question will be posted at 10 a.m. (Central Time) on Friday, November 30.



The first three people who supply the correct answer will receive an MSC-branded stainless steel back scratcher! You’ll need it to successfully tackle those pesky itches after the trivia pressure subsides. (And check out that telescoping action! Wow!) Its five-fingered curved design reaches from 7 in. to 20 3/4 in. in length.





Bookmark and Share

William Baker Wins 2013 T.R. Higgins Award
Posted by Tasha Weiss on October 25, 2012 at 2:51 PM.

bill-baker_headshot_300.jpgWilliam F. Baker, P.E., S.E., structural engineering partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP in Chicago, is the 2013 recipient of the prestigious AISC T.R. Higgins Lectureship Award. Baker is being honored for co-authoring papers on Stability Design of the Bow String Trusses of the Virginia Beach Convention Center and Applications of Structural Optimization in Architectural Design, which were published in the proceedings of the combined 2012 ASCE Structures Congress and 20th Analysis and Computation Specialty Conference.


Presented annually by AISC, the T.R. Higgins Lectureship Award recognizes an outstanding lecturer and author whose technical paper(s) are considered an outstanding contribution to the engineering literature on fabricated structural steel. The award, which includes a $15,000 cash prize, will be presented at the 2013 NASCC: The Steel Conference at America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis, April 17-19.


“Baker is a visionary engineer who can explain complex concepts in simple terms,” said Charles Carter, P.E., S.E., Ph.D., AISC vice president and chief structural engineer. “His recent work is groundbreaking in its application of classical methods to make computer solutions more practical and effective.”


Visit AISC’s press release at to learn more about Baker’s industry contributions. For more information about the T.R. Higgins Award, visit

Bookmark and Share

U.S. Infrastructure Survey Reveals Need for More Funding
Posted by Tasha Weiss on October 24, 2012 at 2:04 PM.

Despite the tens of billions of dollars in federal funding in infrastructure construction projects across the U.S. in recent years, a recent report shows Americans still believe more funding should go toward rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. In fact, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has given our nation’s infrastructure a near failing grade of “D” overall, a rating that has not improved since 2005.


Microdesk, a Nashua, N.H.-based provider of consulting services to the design, build and operate space, recently unveiled results from its “State of the Industry” survey, revealing that 94% of its respondents believe taxpayer money should be used to rebuild America’s infrastructure. Survey respondents also believe that out of all of our nation’s infrastructure, bridges are the sector in the most need of repair.


The survey also found that infrastructure construction in the future will be influenced by technologies such as BIM. To view additional findings from the survey, visit Microdesk’s website at (direct link:


The survey comes during a critical election year. As AISC President Roger Ferch explains in his latest “Letter from the President” on AISC’s website, “It is imperative to keep in mind our goals for improving our nation’s transportation infrastructure, including steel bridges.”


Ferch goes on to say that our nation’s previous transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU, was extended 10 times before President Obama signed into law the current bill, “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act,” or MAP-21. The bill guarantees $121 billion in funding for highways and bridges and $31.7 for public transportation through the 2014 fiscal year. While $121 billion is a lot of money, he says, it’s still not enough to meet our nation’s infrastructure needs and states won’t have the funding they need to plan for larger, longer-term projects.


You can get involved in this pertinent issue by contacting your elected officials in the House and Senate and sharing your voice about the importance of a longstanding, robustly funded transportation system. Visit to learn more and contact your representative.

Bookmark and Share

Engineering Journal Q4 Now Online
Posted by Tasha Weiss on October 22, 2012 at 8:16 PM.

The Fourth Quarter 2012 issue of Engineering Journal is now available online in digital edition format. View the current issue online by clicking here.


Papers in Engineering Journal Q4 include:


  • “Axial Capacities of Eccentrically Loaded Equal-Leg Single Angles: Comparisons of Various Design Methods,” by Yuwen Li
  • “Bond Behavior of Concrete-Filled Steel Tube (CFT) Structures,” by Jie Zhang, Mark D. Denavit, Jerome F. Hajjar and Xilin Lu
  • “Beam Deflections and Stresses During Lifting,” by R.H. Plaut, C.D. Moen and R. Cojocaru
  • “Current Steel Structures Research No. 32,” by Reidar Bjorhovde


Each quarterly current issue of EJ is available in digital format and free to the public until the next issue is published.


The complete collection of Engineering Journal articles is searchable at Current and past articles can be downloaded as PDFs and are free to AISC members and ePubs subscribers; just make sure you are logged into the AISC website ( before searching. Non-members will be directed to the AISC Bookstore at to purchase articles.

Bookmark and Share

Steel Shots: Sunset Span
Posted by Tasha Weiss on October 19, 2012 at 5:41 PM.


The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge spans New York Harbor between the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn. The bridge was completed in 1964, and remains the longest span in North America. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is a vital part of New York City’s transportation network, carrying 12 lanes of traffic. Photo and description by Alexius Tan


This photo of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, taken by Alexius Tan, a student at Polytechnic Institute of NYU, received an Honorable Mention in AISC’s 2012 SteelDay Student Photo Contest.


Opened in 1964, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is a double-decked suspension bridge that connects the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn in New York City at the Narrows, the reach connecting the relatively protected upper bay with the larger lower bay.


The bridge has a center span of 4,260 feet and was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time of its completion, until it was surpassed by the Humber Bridge in the United Kingdom in 1981. It now has the ninth longest main span in the world and is still the longest bridge span in North America.


If you want to learn more about the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the
website provides a detailed historic overview and additional photos of this great steel suspension span.


You can view all winning photo entries from this year’s Student Photo Contest at We’ll be featuring them as Steel Shots on the MSC website throughout the fall.

Bookmark and Share

New Version of Tekla BIMsight Available
Posted by Tasha Weiss on October 17, 2012 at 3:13 PM.

Tekla has updated its BIMsight software for BIM-based collaboration. The new version, Tekla BIMsight 1.6, includes several model updating improvements.


tekla-bimsight-1.jpgYou can now set a default model folder for your project and use it for adding and updating multiple models at once. The program will notify you of new or updated models in the default folder (see right image, click to enlarge).


You can download and share Tekla BIMsight software for free at More information and video tutorials on the new version can be found on the Tekla BIMsight website at (direct link:

Bookmark and Share

2012 T.R. Higgins Award-Winner Publishes Second Novel
Posted by Tasha Weiss on October 16, 2012 at 3:48 PM.

emancipating-death-540×810.jpgMichel Bruneau, P.E., Ph.D., professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering at the University of Buffalo, N.Y., and the recipient of the 2012 AISC T.R. Higgins Award, is also an award-winning fiction writer and has recently published his second novel, The Emancipating Death of a Boring Engineer.


Bruneau’s roots in writing fiction go back to his childhood, and in 1998 he published his first book, a collection of short stories written in French. Then in 2010 he published his award-winning novel, Shaken Allegiances. A fictional account of what ensues when a devastating earthquake strikes Montreal Island in the dead of an icy winter, the Kafkaesque tale was well-received by readers and critics alike.


His new novel is a fictional story about one engineer’s unconventional journey, searching for significant numbers, good wines and the meaning of life, love and death.


Bruneau says of his new novel, “In contrast to my previous novel, The Emancipating Death of a Boring Engineer is an uplifting story with an upbeat ending, because it was written with a pen of a different color.”


Print and e-book versions of the novel can be ordered from online retailers worldwide (Amazon, Apple’s iBookstore, Kobo, etc.) as well as purchased at brick-and-mortar bookstores. For more details on Bruneau’s new novel and previous work, visit


Bruneau, the engineer as writer, is featured in the Februrary 2012 issue of MSC, in our monthly “People to Know” section. Click here to read the article online. To learn more about Bruneau, both as novelist and engineer, visit his website:

Bookmark and Share