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Steel Shots: Plate Girder
Posted by Jennifer Jernigan on December 17, 2010 at 11:32 AM.


This photo was taken in the San Angelo, Texas, girder shop of AISC Member Hirschfeld Steel Company and shows a newly fabricated 300-ft-long steel plate girder. 


jj.jpgIn normal practice, a plate girder is thought of as a bending member made up of individual steel plates and their use is very prevalent within bridge design and construction. They are normally the member of choice for situations where the available rolled shapes are not large enough to carry the intended load. Although it is possible to combine steel plates into numerous geometries, plate girders are formed with three plates, one for the web and two for the flanges to form the shape of an “I”. Since the web and flanges of the pate girder are fabricated from individual plates, they may be designed with web and flanges from the same grade of steel or from different grades. Those from different grades of steel are known as hybrid girders.


Railroad bridges have been constructed using plate girders since the late 1800s, made up from plate, angles and rivets to form the familiar shape. In today’s fabrication shops the assembly process of girders is much more efficient but still yields the same versatile product that a traditional wide-flange beam cannot achieve. These plate assemblies have limitless choices when it comes to web or flange thickness and have project-specific custom depths. Automated welding machines and heat curving allow for precise arches to be formed with the steel members. Girders can be used for shorter single-span bridges or longer multi-spans that can make up straight sections or large sweeping curves in a highway interchange.


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Reliance Steel Acquires Lampros
Posted by Alison Trost on December 16, 2010 at 9:52 AM.

Los Angeles-based AISC member Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. has acquired the outstanding capital stock of Lampros Steel, Inc., a steel service center company specializing in structural steel shapes with a facility located in Portland, Oregon. The acquisition also includes a related interest in Lampros Steel Plate Distribution LLC.


Lampros, whose current management will remain in place, will operate as a subsidiary of American Metals Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co.


For more information, visit the Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. website,

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Holiday Gift Ideas
Posted by Tom Klemens on December 15, 2010 at 9:55 AM.

Looking for the perfect holiday gift to give to an architect or engineer? Try one of these!


For a really high-end gift, you might consider a commission like the “Clock for an Architect.” Designed by Daniel Weir this clock not only exposes the way in which it works, but is also stylish, and practical. The face is made from nickel-plated brass and silver, and the numerous other exposed elements are equally elegant. To see the one-of-a-kind clock (and Weil’s sketches) on the Pentagram website, click here.


Fortunately, there are some unusual gift possibilities that are still in plentiful supply. How about downloading a few tunes from the annual Sturgeon Bay (Wis.) Steel Bridge Songfest? They love their steel bridge in Sturgeon Bay, and for the past 5 years (maybe 6) have gathered in mid June to sing about it, and sing to it as well. Check out the clips at One of my favorites is way down in the Vol 1 list — “Hey Steel Bridge!” Most of the tunes are good music, and they’re economical, too — just 99 cents each! (Click here to hear one resident’s explanation of how the songfest came to be.)


stolen-dreams-cover.jpgOr, for the literary-minded among your friends, consider ordering a copy of the newly published Stolen Dreams. Written by Tracy Totten, it is “a novel about the steel industry for the steel industry.” The subject matter is no surprise, seeing as Totten is the president of Azusa, Calif.-based Totten Tubes, Inc. The author says his novel is “a suspense thriller of corporate espionage, betrayal, and even a little romance that turns one steel tycoon against another to see who survives.” To order a copy of Stolen Dreams now, even before it becomes available online, call Totten Tubes at 800-882-3748. Again, it’s an economical gift option - total price for the 200-page novel is less than $10 (postage included).


BONUS OFFER: If you’re in the Los Angeles area on Friday, December 17, from 3 - 5 p.m. (Pacific time), stop by Totten Tubes for a book signing and open house. Please call ahead so they can have enough refreshments on hand.


But if you’re looking for something strictly non-fiction, consider two new publications in the “For Dummies” series from Wiley Publishing.


Welding for Dummies, by Steven Robert Farnsworth, is a friendly, practical guide covering everything from basic safety to placing the finishing touches on more complex projects. With easy-to-follow guidance, the book enables readers to confidently perform this commonly used yet complex task. It provides the fundamentals of each type of welding (mig, tig, and fluxcore) as well as explaining the more complex practices of plasma cutting and oxyfuel cutting. The author is a weldingdummies-2.jpg teacher with more than 20 years experience. He also served in the U.S. Navy, working to keep the fleet afloat with his welding repairs.


Statics for Dummies, by James H. Allen III, P.E., Ph.D., is an easy-to-follow companion to any statics course that moves deftly from the basic principles of vectors to the practical everyday uses one sees in the real world. A good refresher (or an accessible introduction to those in the family who just don’t get what all the fuss is about), Statics For Dummies opens the world of this fundamental branch of engineering with clear explanations and simple equilibrium problems that show how forces affect objects.

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Quality in Steel Erection
Posted by Ted Sheppard on December 14, 2010 at 10:15 AM.

ts.jpgToo many erectors rely too much on outside inspectors.  Look at the following situations:


1.  You get the inspector from hell who immediately throws the erector under the bus and then goes after the bolt manufacturer, the paint manufacturer, and any other supplier that also sends in material test reports.  The outcome for the erector is not good.


2.  You get an inspector who does not enforce the project specifications or the industry standards, but he or she is nice and you just want to get along.  He is usually two or three or more floors behind you, but you never hear anything bad from him.  The outcome for the erector could be bad or possibly good.


3.  You get an inspector who makes up the rules as he or she goes along.  Some of them may be more stringent than industry standards and some may be less so.  Some may be impossible to do without faking it.  Again the inspector is nice and you have little rework; so you go along.  The outcome for the erector could be good or it could be bad – very hard to tell.


4.  You get an inspector who knows and understands the project specifications and industry standards, enforces them fairly, and is always where the work is.  This is a wonderful experience, and the outcome for the erector is good.


It amazes me that so many erector owners are relying on someone who is not on their payroll to ensure the quality of their work.  They are putting their reputations on the line, and they have nothing to say about it.


Quality is not a dirty word, and neither is inspection.  However, inspection is the tail end of the process, a confirmation of conformance to requirements.  Quality guru Philip Crosby who managed QC for the Pershing Missile program wrote a book with the title “Quality is Free.”  But in the long run quality is free and handsomely profitable as well.  It can be an excellent sales tool.  Good quality generates repeat customers.  What is not free is doing parts or all of a work item over again.


Quality demands a commitment from top management to put policies and procedures in place.  Quality demands that those policies and procedures be communicated clearly and concisely to every worker on the payroll.  Quality demands that employees be trained in all of the elements that drive the quality process.  In short, quality is good management.  The keys are education, training, effective communication, and working together.  If this is done right, you do not have to worry about inspection or the inspector.


Don’t disappoint me by saying that this will all happen some day.  Make some day today, and make today every day.  


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Steel Industrial Project Featured on AIA Website
Posted by Alison Trost on December 13, 2010 at 10:14 AM.

The mile-long National Alabama Corporation rail car manufacturing facility is currently being featured in the “Design Matters” section of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) website. You can see photos of the completed structure on the AIA website by clicking here.



Steel for the project was fabricated by AISC member Cives Steel and erected by AISC member Midwest Steel Inc. Read about the steel aspects of the project in the February 2010 issue of MSC by clicking here.



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Steel Shot: Steel Joists
Posted by Alison Trost on December 10, 2010 at 9:56 AM.

The Hallsville Senior High School was a winning project for the 2010 Design Awards from the Steel Joist Institute. Photo: Unified Building Sciences & Engineering.

Hallsville Senior High School in northeast Texas won the SJI 2010 Design Award in the non-industrial category. The 400,000 sq. ft. structure includes a Fine Arts, Science, Career and Technical Education, and Academic facilities including a gymnasium and theatre. The engineering firm of Unified Building Sciences & Engineering (an AISC member) was awarded a $2,000 scholarship in the company’s name to provide to a school of their choice.

Some notable reasons this project won are listed below.

The steel joist system produced by AISC Member Nucor, Vulcraft Group, created an economical and efficient structure. In addition, using this system eliminated the need for a vertical bracing system on the project.

Another interesting component of this project was that the roof in the competition gymnasium was crafted from a 194 ft. span, 10 ft. deep double arched custom joist system that was field spliced at mid-span.

Read more about this and the other prize-winning projects at

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The Topping Out Tradition
Posted by Tom Klemens on December 9, 2010 at 9:19 AM.

Ever wonder where the “Topping Out” tradition came from? You can read about the origins of the practice of topping out - placing the last piece of structural steel along with a Christmas tree and often an American flag - in the pages of Modern Steel Construction. In the August 1995 issue editor Scott Melnick posed the question in his editorial, and published a distillation of the responses in the October 1995 issue.


Until recently the only way to read either of those 1995 items was to find a printed copy of the magazine. However, earlier this year all the early editions of MSC (1961-1995) were scanned and posted on the MSC website at


There is a small catch. Each of the scanned issues is a single PDF file. So to read the August 1995 editorial, for example, you need to scroll to page 6 of the document. The October article begins on page 36 (which in PDF-ese is 38).


An updated version of the topping out tradition article was published in the December 2000 MSC, this time with more photos. That article can be accessed directly by clicking here.


360state_150p.jpgHave you ever seen a Topping Out? You can see a photo of last January’s traditional signing of the beam for topping out the 360 State Street building in New Haven, Conn., here. And you can watch a 1-minute video of the November 4 topping out at St. Thomas University’s Anderson Student Center in St. Paul, Minn., on the school’s website by clicking here (scroll down to the second image).

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Steel Gets Leading Role in Vegas
Posted by Alison Trost on December 8, 2010 at 10:32 AM.

The behind-the-scenes features of the Smith Center for Performing Arts now under construction in Las Vegas include an auditorium roof supported by three 10-foot deep steel trusses as long as a basketball court, according to a local reporter in a Las Vegas Business Press report online. “The largest truss weighs 36 tons or slightly more than a Sherman tank,” the reporter noted. The project structural engineering is by Walter P Moore.


To read more about the project and see photos, click here.

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TT Named SER for TCU Stadium
Posted by Alison Trost on December 7, 2010 at 10:58 AM.

Thornton Tomasetti has been named the structural engineer of record for the $105 million redevelopment of Texas Christian University historic Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas, home of TCU’s Horned Frogs football team. Thornton Tomasetti is partnering with the Dallas-based architectural firm HKS Inc., with which it has previously collaborated on more than eight sports facilities. The TCU project will begin immediately after the Horned Frogs’ final 2010 home game.


Itcu-stadium-credit-rendering-courtesy-hks.jpgmprovements include a newly raised upper seating bowl at the stadium’s west and north ends for enhanced field views; new press box, support spaces, vertical circulation elements, plazas, landscaping, ornamental fencing and stadium facade; new elevators for better stadium access and crowd flow; and the addition of 18 new suites, club seating, and a founder’s club lounge.


The stadium’s design references, including suites, lounges, graphics and navigational signage, will reflect the 1930s style of Southwestern art deco prevalent throughout Fort Worth and the surrounding area. HKS has integrated TCU’s colors into the design to create a pleasing and comfortable look and feel for the new and improved stadium.


(Rendering courtesy of HKS Inc.)

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Chat on Twitter
Posted by Alison Trost on December 6, 2010 at 9:33 AM.

twitter new birdThe American Institute of Architects (AIA) has started a series of Twitter Chats which allow Twitter users to interact and discuss pre-determined topics in an open conversation. Using Twitter allows everyone to participate, and the entire discussion can be seen with the ongoing thread.  The chats are held on the first Wednesday of every month from 2-3pm EST.


To join in on the chat all you’ll need is a Twitter account, and at the end of your tweets put #aiachat. It’s that easy; no sign-up required, just monitor the tweets with #aiachat to participate.  For a thorough explanation from the AIA, click here.


The Twitter chat held December 1 was about pro bono services and professionals weighed in on their pro bono work experiences. To view the thread from that chat click here.


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