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Frederick Brown, Jr., Former AFCO Steel President, Dies at 90
Posted by Tasha Weiss on February 27, 2013 at 3:48 PM.

frederick-isaac-brown-jr.jpgFrederick Isaac Brown, Jr., former president of AFCO Steel (now W&W/AFCO Steel, an AISC/NSBA member and AISC certified fabricator), died peacefully at his home on February 9, surrounded by family and friends. He was 90 years old.


Fred I., as he was most often referred to by friends, attended the University of Arizona where he was an active member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and served as a cadet in one of the last ROTC cavalries before horses ceased to be a regular part of military equipment. He competed in the school’s award-winning rodeos and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1943.


After graduating from college, he served for three years in Midshipmen’s School. He was commissioned an Ensign USNR in January 1944 where he volunteered for duty with the U.S. Navy’s “Beach Jumpers” unit during World War II, commanded by Lieutenant Douglas Fairbanks. This unit operated under Top Secret orders to prepare for a diversionary landing on southwestern Kyushu Island, Japan. The dropping of the atom bomb changed the mission, and his unit was assigned to the 43rd Sunrise Army Division in Hiroshima.


After being discharged from the Navy as communication officer aboard the USS Alcyone, Brown worked as a stove tender in the Blast Furnace Division of Inland Steel in Indiana Harbor, Ind., then attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in metallurgy in 1949.


Following the death of his father in 1962, Brown became president and CEO of AFCO Steel in Little Rock, Ark. The company was recognized as a leading structural steel fabricator in the U.S. and was sold in 2002 to W&W Steel.


Brown was also appointed to the Little Rock Port Authority at its inception in 1960. He became Chairman in 1965, a position he held for more than 20 years, and oversaw the development of a 1,500-acre industrial park, a short-line railroad and an operating river port. In 1969, the towboat “Arkansas Traveler” chugged into the port with the first two barges loaded with steel. About 20 years later the Little Rock Board of Directors named the port’s slack water harbor the “Fred I. Brown, Jr. Industrial Harbor” in recognition of his dedication to the McClellan-Kerr Navigation Plan for the Arkansas River.


Brown is survived by his wife of 62 years, Patricia, five children and 10 grandchildren.

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AISC Seeks Proposals for BIM Guide
Posted by Tasha Weiss on February 25, 2013 at 6:28 PM.

AISC is now accepting proposals for the development of a best practices guide on the use of building information modeling (BIM) that is consistent and cohesive with the checks and balances currently provided in the AISC Code of Standard Practice for Steel Buildings and Bridges.


The AISC Code Committee seeks assistance from BIM users including engineers, fabricators, erectors, detailers, architects and contractors in identifying and documenting best practices to facilitate the long-term standardization of BIM in structural steel construction.


Download the Request for Proposal form here.


“The AISC Code reflects industry advancements and provides the AEC community with a useful framework for a common understanding of acceptable standards when contracting for structural steel,” commented Charles J. Carter, S.E., P.E., Ph.D., AISC vice president and chief structural engineer. “However, few aspects of BIM have become standard. This has hampered the ability of the AISC Code Committee to incorporate provisions related to BIM into the Code.”


Proposals are due by March 27, 2013, and may be submitted via email to AISC’s Jie Zuo at, or by mail to:


Jie Zuo
American Institute of Steel Construction
1 E. Wacker Drive, Suite 700
Chicago, IL 60601




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Steel Structure Trivia: One of the First Modern Skyscrapers
Posted by Tasha Weiss on February 22, 2013 at 11:14 AM.


Here’s MSC’s February Steel Structure Trivia question! “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will not themselves be realized.” This famous quote is by a renowned Chicago City planner and architect, one of three visionaries who revolutionized architectural design when they created one of the first modern skyscrapers in 1895. Pictured above as it stands today, the building–which is 14 stories, an incredible feat when it was built–was restored in the 1990s to become a signature hotel and gorgeously illustrates Chicago’s past and present glory. Can you name this steel building? Photo: AISC


This historic steel skyscraper is Chicago’s Reliance Building, which was carefully restored and resurrected as the Hotel Burnham, a Kimpton Hotel, in 1999. Congratulations to our winners: Josh Ogle, an engineering intern with J-U-B Engineers in Utah; Subir Saha Choudhury, P.E., a structural engineer with Jacobs Canada, Inc. in Edmonton; and Matthew Danza, P.E., a structural engineer with John Maltese Iron Works, Inc., (an AISC member) in North Brunswick, N.J. And thank you to all who participated.


The famous quote mentioned in the above photo caption is by renowned Chicago City planner and architect Daniel Burnham. He, along with John Root and Charles Atwood, were the visionaries who revolutionized architectural design when they created the Reliance Building in 1895. Its radical steel and glass design set the precedent for the modern skyscraper, ushering in a new era in architectural design that has since shaped the skylines of cities around the globe.


The first floor and basement of the building were designed by John Root of the Burnham and Root architectural firm in 1890, with the rest of the building completed by Charles Atwood in 1895, according to Wikipedia. The addition of the remaining floors in 1894-1895 completed the building and marked the “first comprehensive achievement” of the Chicago construction method. The building’s plate-glass windows are set within the terra-cotta-tiled facade, and its steel-framed superstructure is built atop concrete caissons sunk as far as 125 ft beneath the footing.


The Reliance Building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and in 1976, it was designated a National Historic Landmark. It is also part of downtown Chicago’s Loop Retail Historic District, a collection of more than 100 buildings that reflect the growth of State and Wabash Streets as the central retail district of Chicago.


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 on Friday, March 29, at 10 a.m. (CST).



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Voting Now Open in Inaugural Architizer A+ Awards
Posted by Tasha Weiss on February 21, 2013 at 5:16 PM.

Public voting is now open for the Architizer A+ Awards in the Popular Choice category. Architizer is a leading architectural resource and networking website and launched the inaugural awards program this year to honor the world’s best spaces and structures, as well as the minds behind them.


The Popular Choice Award allows you to vote for your favorite architecture projects in more than 50 categories that are divided into two types: The Typology Categories celebrate traditional building types, and the Plus Categories acknowledge the link between global issues and the structures that society builds. All entries are built projects completed within the past three years.


Several U.S. steel projects are entered including New York City’s Lincoln Center Theater, the U.S. Land Port of Entry in Calais, Maine, the Barclays Arena at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, N.Y., and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center.


Sign up and cast your votes by March 8 at

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Having Fun with Steel Connection Design
Posted by Tasha Weiss on February 21, 2013 at 12:41 PM.

One major roadblock in engaging architectural and engineering students in steel connection design is the highly technical education, according to the Steel Structures Education Foundation (SSEF). Students learn about connections from the point of view of load transfer and bolting requirements, but rarely are taken to the more advanced step of understanding how that simple connection can become something more complex and interesting.


A new website called “Fun is in the Details: Innovation in Steel Connections,” a curriculum materials project funded by SSEF, gives students (and professionals, too!) an understanding of the development of steel connections through an interactive case study gallery of more than 80 innovative buildings from around the world.


The web-based project is designed to better assist students in creating more convincing and compelling structures through taking basic methods of creating connections and transforming them into innovative connections. The website emphasizes architecturally exposed structural steel (AESS) but also includes standard structural steel connections.



Each case study includes numerous images that show various structural systems and connections and their use in exciting design with steel. Many of them can also be explored using 3D PDF drawings (as shown in the right image).


The “Fun is in the Details: Innovation in Steel Connections” website can be found at

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Engineering Journal Celebrates 50 Years of Publication
Posted by Tasha Weiss on February 19, 2013 at 6:00 PM.

ej_501.jpgAISC’s Engineering Journal, the premier U.S. technical journal for structural steel construction, celebrates its 50th year of publication this year!  


AISC started EJ in 1964 as a means of communicating practical technical information to its membership. The first issue included articles from the great minds of Lev Zetlin (steel cables used to create “structural space systems”), T.R. Higgins (the then-new concept of effective length factors for columns) and Ted Galambos (lateral support to prevent sidesway buckling).


Over the years EJ has expanded in scope to include coverage of contemporary steel research, but it continues to provide practical technical information reviewed by industry peers.


The first quarter 2013 issue of EJ is now available. You can view, print and share the current digital edition online by clicking here.


Papers in EJ Q1 include:


  • Calculation of Stress Trajectories Using Fracture Mechanics by Bo Dowswell
  • Overview of the Development of Design Recommendations for Eccentrically Braced Frame Links with Built-Up Box Sections by Jeffrey W. Berman and Michel Bruneau
  • A Comparison between the 2005 and 2010 AISC Specification by Eric J. Bolin, Thomas J. Dehlin and Louis F. Geschwindner


Article searches for the complete collection of EJ remain available at Downloads of current and past articles in PDF format are free to AISC members and ePubs subscribers. Non-AISC members may subscribe to Engineering Journal at AISC’s website, here.


Is there a steel design topic that you would like to see addressed in more detail? EJ is always looking for your ideas. E-mail them to Keith Grubb, Editor, at

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Designated Day Offers Girls a Glimpse of Careers in Engineering
Posted by Tasha Weiss on February 18, 2013 at 5:10 PM.

In the past decade, “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” has introduced more than one million girls and young women to the engineering field. Now in its 12th year, the national event will take place on Thursday, February 21, as part of Engineers Week.


The program, which emphasizes math and science education, gives girls in grades K-12 a taste of engineering via interactive labs, demonstrations and hands-on activities. Events are held all over the country at businesses, universities, libraries and other venues. Its mission is to provide girls and young women with mentors who can inspire their decision to become engineers and increase the number of women in the workforce.


“In the United States, women account for nearly 60% of college students, but fewer than one in five of those women are engineering students,” said Barbara Rusinko, senior vice president of Bechtel, a sponsor of the program. “The demand for engineers throughout the world can’t be met without engaging women.”


One of this year’s highlights will be a live #STEMchat on Twitter, set for February 20 at 9 p.m. (EST). #STEMchat is a monthly Twitter conversation that joins parents, educators and professionals in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. Panelists include various experts and bloggers who will share ideas and resources on STEM-related career opportunities for girls.


Engineers Week enters its 62nd anniversary this week, February 17-23, and was created by the National Society of Professional Engineers to raise public understanding of the importance of the engineering profession. The program reaches out to schools, businesses and community groups across the U.S. to provide various events and resources on becoming an engineer.


For more information on Engineers Week and to learn more about this year’s scheduled events, visit

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Steel Shots: Repairing America’s Bridges
Posted by Tasha Weiss on February 15, 2013 at 5:52 PM.


Pictured above is Chicago’s Wells Street Bridge, which is currently undergoing a $41.2-million reconstruction. According to the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), the double-decker bridge’s historic elements, railings, bridge houses and major structural components will be replaced to preserve the 1920s look. Crews will also replace the trusses and all of the steel framing for the lower level road and upper level railway structures, as well as the mechanical and electrical components. Officials say the new bridge is being built off-site near the South Branch of the Chicago River, and the completed components will be floated in on barges and erected on-site by the end of November. Photo: AISC


In the State of the Union Address on Tuesday, President Obama stressed the importance of investing in American infrastructure and proposed a “Fix-It-First” program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgently needed repairs, such as the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country.


The majority of bridges in this country were built in the mid-1900s, such that the average bridge is currently 43 years old. While material and coating technologies today suggest a bridge lifespan of almost 100 years, that wasn’t the case when many of these structures were built. The majority of our bridges are now reaching the end of their service lives at a time when money isn’t available to repair or replace them. (Click here to read more about the need for funding for our nation’s bridges from the November 2011 issue of MSC.)


The good news is that some bridges are receiving the repair work they need. One of them is Chicago’s Wells Street Bridge over the Main Branch of the Chicago River, which is currently undergoing a $41.2-million renovation.


The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) closed the bridge to traffic and pedestrians beginning last November for a year-long reconstruction project. Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) trains will continue to use the bridge during construction, except for two nine-day service interruptions this spring.


“This is a great opportunity to fully restore the historic Wells Street Bridge, which has outlived its useful life and is in need of a complete reconstruction,” said CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein. “It has been in service since 1922, and has been a key transportation link for cars, trains, bikes and pedestrians for the past 90 years.”


According to CDOT, the bridge’s historic elements, railings, bridge houses and major structural components will be replaced to preserve its 1920s look. Crews will also replace the trusses and all of the steel framing for the lower level road and upper level railway structures, as well as the mechanical and electrical components.


Officials say the new bridge is being built off-site near the South Branch of the Chicago River, and the completed components will be floated in on barges and erected on-site by the end of November.


For more information about the Wells Street Bridge reconstruction project, visit Learn more about the history of the Wells Street Bridge — which celebrated 90 years of service last year — in our previous news post, here

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As Manufacturing Rebounds, More Skilled Workers are Needed
Posted by Tasha Weiss on February 14, 2013 at 6:05 PM.

In his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, President Obama highlighted several manufacturing initiatives and touted the growth of 500,000 manufacturing jobs over the past three years, but warned about the major skills gap in the industry:


“None of it will matter unless we also equip our citizens with the skills and training to fill those jobs…let’s also make sure that a high school diploma puts our kids on a path to a good job. Right now, countries like Germany focus on graduating their high school students with the equivalent of a technical degree from one of our community colleges, so those German kids, they’re ready for a job when they graduate high school.”


A new survey of 199 metalworking manufacturers published by One Voice, the joint federal advocacy program of the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) and the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA), underscores the severity of the skilled worker shortage in the U.S.


In fact, the survey showed that while 69% of surveyed manufacturers currently have job openings and many anticipate workforce and sales increases this year, 91% of these metalworking manufacturers struggle to find qualified employees.


The manufacturers, who averaged 77 employees in 2012 (compared to 69 employees in 2011), supply components, tools and other products and services to the agriculture, aerospace, appliance, automotive, defense, electronics, energy, medical, transportation and other industries.


New worker recruitment is crucial to avoid a net shortage of skilled manufacturing 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.


To address the challenge of recruiting qualified employees, respondents reported their use of several different tactics such as working directly with high schools, community colleges or vocational institutions and using industry training centers.


To learn more about One Voice and the skilled worker shortage, visit

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Last Day to Register for Feb. 14 Direct Analysis Webinar
Posted by Tasha Weiss on February 13, 2013 at 4:16 PM.

This Valentine’s Day, let us show you why you’ll love the direct analysis method for steel-framed structures.


If you haven’t already registered for AISC’s live webinar “Practical Use of the Direct Analysis Method,” which happens tomorrow — February 14 — you still have time! Online registration will remain open until 11 p.m. (PST) tonight.


The direct analysis method for steel-framed structures was introduced in the 2005 AISC Specification for Structural Steel Buildings and continues in the 2010 version of the Specification. The primary benefit of this approach to analysis and design is the elimination of K-factors in the design phase.


This webinar session will introduce the direct analysis method, highlight the unique features and benefits of this approach and discuss the factors that must be included in all designs. Presented by Louis F. Geschwindner, Ph.D., P.E., professor emeritus of architectural engineering at Penn State University and AISC’s former vice president of engineering and research, the method will be illustrated through simplified examples and conclude with an example of the method applied to an actual steel-framed building.


The 1.5-hour webinar will begin at the following times, relative to time zone:


10:30 a.m. PST
11:30 a.m. MST
12:30 p.m. CST
1:30 p.m. EST


The cost of the webinar is $185 for AISC members, $285 for non-members and $155 for students and educators. (Fees are based on a per-site connection basis. Purchase one site connection and any number of members in your company or organization may view the webinar at that site connection. All attendees are eligible to receive CEUs/PDHs.)


Registrants will receive access to a PDF file of the presentation slides prior to the webinar, CEU/PDH certificates for all attendees upon completion of the live webinar (0.15 CEUs/1.5 PDHs) and complete instructions for accessing the live webinar.


Click here for more information and to register for the live webinar. To learn more about other upcoming AISC live webinars, visit

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