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Steel Structure Trivia: The Old and the New
Posted by Tasha Weiss on June 28, 2013 at 10:42 AM.


Here’s MSC’s June Steel Structure Trivia question! New Orleans’ seven-year-long $1.2-billion Huey P. Long Expansion Project was completed on June 16 when the updated bridge was fully open to drivers. The widening of this landmark steel bridge accommodates increasing regional traffic flow and today’s increased load requirements. The above image is a composite artwork of the bridge using an original and recent construction photo. Your trivia question is: What year did the original Huey P. Long Bridge open? Photo: Courtesy of Shane Peck at LA Timed Managers (new construction photo) and Joe Spadea / Modjeski and Masters who provided the original photo and created the compilation.


The original Huey P. Long Bridge opened in 1935. Congratulations to our winners: Thomas Sputo of Sputo and Lammert Engineering, LLC, in Gainesville, Fla., and Jon Hamann of Cives Steel Company in Augusta, Maine.


New Orleans’ seven-year-long $1.2-billion Huey P. Long Expansion Project was completed last month when the updated bridge was fully open to drivers. The unprecedented bridge widening adds an additional travel lane and shoulders in each direction, expanding the bridge from two 9-ft travel lanes to three 11-ft travel lanes in each direction. The updated bridge accommodates increasing regional traffic flow and today’s increased load requirements.


“Modjeski and Masters has a long history with the Huey P. Long Bridge and the completion of the widening project marks the beginning of a new era for the city of New Orleans and Huey P. Long Bridge travelers,” said Bruce Peterson, senior associate and Huey P. Long Bridge Widening project manager at Modjeski and Masters. “The ability to expand the bridge versus replace it is a testament to the original bridge’s solid design – saving money for the state of Louisiana and taxpayers alike.”


The Huey P. Long Bridge was originally constructed in the 1930s as one of the first Mississippi River spans built in Louisiana. The cantilevered steel through truss bridge was originally designed by Ralph Modjeski, founding partner at Modjeski and Masters – the same engineering firm that created the innovative design for the expansion project. The seven-year project was divided into four phases, including main bridge pier widening, rail modifications, main bridge truss widening and construction of new approaches.


For more information on the Huey P. Long Widening Project, visit
. You can also read an article from the September 2010 issue of MSC which features photos and details on the project’s erection plan.



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Nominations Sought for 2014 T.R. Higgins Award
Posted by Tasha Weiss on June 27, 2013 at 8:32 AM.

Nominations are now being accepted for AISC’s prestigious T.R. Higgins Lectureship Award, which includes a $15,000 cash award. The award recognizes an outstanding lecturer and author whose technical paper or papers, published during the eligibility period, are considered an outstanding contribution to the engineering literature on fabricated structural steel. The winner will be recognized at the 2014 NASCC: The Steel Conference, March 26-29 in Toronto, and will present their lecture at various professional association events throughout the year.


AISC encourages those involved in the steel design and construction industry to submit nominations by August 1, 2013. Nominations should include the following information:


  • Name and affiliation of individual nominated (past winners may not be nominated again).
  • Title of the paper(s) for which the individual is nominated, including publication citation.
  • If the paper has multiple authors, identify the principal author.
  • Reasons for nomination.
  • A copy of the paper(s) as well as any published discussion, must accompany the nomination. The author must be a permanent resident of the U.S. and available to fulfill the commitments of the award. The paper or papers must have been published in a professional journal within the five-year period from January 1, 2008 to January 1, 2013. The 2014 award winner will give a minimum of six presentations of the lecture on selected occasions during the year.

The award will be made to a nominated individual on the basis of two criteria: his/her reputation as a lecturer; and the jury’s evaluation of the paper or papers named in the nomination. Papers will be judged for originality, clarity of presentation, contribution to engineering knowledge, future significance, and value to the fabricated structural steel industry.


Please send your nominations for the T.R. Higgins Lectureship Award to:


T.R. Higgins Award Nomination
c/o Janet T. Cummins
Engineering & Research Coordinator
American Institute of Steel Construction
One East Wacker Drive, Suite 700
Chicago, IL 60601


Or, you may submit your nominations to Janet Cummins via email at


The current T.R. Higgins Lecturer is William F. Baker, P.E., S.E., structural engineering partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP, in Chicago. He’s 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. His lecture is titled Structural Innovation: Combining Classic Theories with New Technologies.


Other recent recipients include: Michel Bruneau, P.E., Ph.D., for his papers on steel plate shear wall design published in AISC’s Engineering Journal and the proceedings of the Canadian Conference on Earthquake Engineering; Charles W. Roeder, Ph.D., P.E., professor of civil engineering at the University of Washington, Seattle, for his paper on Gusset Plate Connections for Seismic Design, which was published in the Proceedings of the Sixth International Workshop on Connections in Steel Structures; and James O. Malley, S.E., senior principal of Degenkolb Engineers, San Francisco, for his paper titled “The 2005 AISC Seismic Provisions for Structural Steel Buildings,” published in the First Quarter 2007 AISC Engineering Journal.


This prestigious award is named for Theodore R. Higgins, Ph.D., former AISC Director of Engineering and Research, who was widely acclaimed for his many contributions to the advancement of engineering technology related to fabricated structural steel.


More information on the T.R. Higgins Lectureship Award and its past winners can be found at

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NSBA Addresses Misconceptions About American Steel Bridge Industry
Posted by Tasha Weiss on June 26, 2013 at 6:00 PM.

The National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA) has issued a Letter to the Editor outlining their objection to statements published in a June 20 Wall Street Journal article titled “U.S. Icons Now Made of Chinese Steel.”


The article concludes that the U.S. structural steel industry is idle and domestic bridge expertise is lacking, based on New York City’s Verrazano-Narrows Bridge project, which features seldom-used orthotropic bridge deck design and is currently being repaired with steel made in China.


NSBA refutes that assumptions about the domestic steel bridge industry should not be based primarily on a single U.S. project. In fact, significant activity in the U.S. building and bridge markets shows that the American structural steel industry is robust and domestic steel fabricators do have the sophistication, diversity, experience and capacity to meet all U.S. project requirements. The letter appears below:


On June 20, the Wall Street Journal published an interesting article on “U.S. Icons Now Made of Chinese Steel.” Unfortunately, the authors attempted to make conclusions based primarily on a single project, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which featured a seldom-used orthotropic bridge deck design. As with most designs, orthotropic decks have their advantages and their disadvantages. While they are very lightweight, they also typically are highly labor intensive. As a result, these specialty systems are often very expensive to build.


Over the past 20 years, less than one orthotropic deck bridge, similar to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, has been built in each of those years in the U.S. In reality, despite what the media may portray, the domestic bridge market is extremely robust, fabricating more than 700 steel bridges in 2012 alone.


The truth is that the domestic steel bridge industry has the capability to fabricate bridges to meet our nation’s immediate needs as well as ample capacity to fabricate America’s signature bridges. Across the country, there are countless examples of what American fabricators have done – and still do. The Eggner’s Ferry bridge in western Kentucky was struck and collapsed by a 8,200-ton cargo ship. Less than four months went by between the original span’s demise and the new one opening to traffic. Recent major bridge projects such as the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Washington D.C., the Ravenal Bridge in Charleston, S.C., and a new Mississippi River crossing in Louisiana are true success stories from domestic fabricators and their American workers.


Finally, while some may try to paint this as simply a dollars and cents issue, the truth is the American steel bridge industry cares about the health, safety and welfare of its workers. By awarding projects like the Verrazano-Narrows bridge to foreign competitors, we ignore wage, environmental impact and safety standards that we demand for our own citizens. To accept anything less means accepting financial savings at the potential cost of human life. Shouldn’t the Chinese be held to the same standards if they are going to compete here in the United States?


Thank you for listening to our view.


Roger Ferch, NSBA executive director


To learn more about the American structural steel industry’s prevalence in the U.S., visit

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Steel Shots: Replacing the Skagit River Bridge
Posted by Tasha Weiss on June 25, 2013 at 5:04 PM.

Acrow Bridge has provided WSDOT with two 160-ft-long, 24-ft-wide temporary Interstate 5 bridge spans to replace the section that collapsed into the Skagit River in Washington last month. Designed for heavy interstate highway truck traffic, Acrow’s prefabricated modular steel bridges are quick and easy to customize and install. Photo: Courtesy of Acrow Bridge


Acrow Bridge (an AISC member), a bridge engineering and supply company, has provided the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) with two prefabricated modular steel bridges, which are being used side-by-side to replace the damaged section of the Interstate 5 bridge that collapsed into the Skagit River last month when it was struck by a truck with an oversized load.


The temporary spans will allow traffic to safely resume on the bridge while a permanent span is built. WSDOT reopened the Interstate 5 Skagit River Bridge last week.


“Prefabricated modular steel bridges are used all over the country to transport heavy traffic, as permanent structures or temporary detour bridges,” said Bill Killeen, president and CEO of Acrow Bridge. “Their design allows for fast customization, assembly and installation, which is critical in situations where safe passage and access need to be restored quickly.”


The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) advocates the use of prefabricated modular systems because they offer significant time and cost savings, safety benefits, environmental advantages and convenience for travelers.


The two Acrow bridges that are being used on the Skagit River Bridge are each 160 ft long with roadway widths of 24 ft. The bridges are positioned next to each other to support four lanes of interstate highway traffic. Acrow is using some of its $30 million in inventory from its yards in Camas, Wash., and Lafayette, N.J., to supply these two bridges. Acrow’s offices in Camas and Vancouver, B.C., oversaw the temporary bridge span installation.


Specializing in prefabricated modular steel bridges, one area of Acrow’s business is to provide emergency infrastructure solutions across the U.S. and around the globe. Earlier this month, Acrow supplied bridge components used to support the Interstate 81 overpass bridge in Harrisburg, Pa., that was badly damaged in a tanker truck accident. The company’s modular solutions have replaced bridges lost to such catastrophes as Hurricanes Katrina, Irene and Sandy, the Chilean earthquake, Indian Ocean tsunami and Angolan Civil War and provided secure access for emergency workers and equipment at rescue and recovery sites, including Ground Zero at the World Trade Center in New York City.

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Early Completion for Cleveland’s New Medical Mart and Convention Center
Posted by Tasha Weiss on June 19, 2013 at 6:00 PM.

Turner Construction Company recently announced the early completion of the $465 million Global Center for Health Innovation and Cleveland Convention Center building program; completed three months ahead of the original schedule and millions under budget.


cleveland-medical-mart-and-convention-center-photo.jpgAbout 12,200 tons of structural steel went into the project. Schuff Steel (an AISC member and AISC certified fabricator) coordinated the fabrication of the $40 million contract across 15 plants in the U.S., including two of its own.


Photo: A structural system of massive tree columns developed by Magnusson Klemencic Associates for the new Cleveland Convention Center permitted 90-ft column spacing while keeping the truss depth to just 8 ft. Image courtesy of Turner Construction Company.

To learn more about the structural steel used for the project, you can watch this three-minute YouTube video (posted in early April during steel erection; note that the steel tonnage has been updated since).


To coordinate a project of this size and scope at a busy downtown site, Turner worked closely with the property owner, Merchandise Mart Properties Inc., as well as 168 local SBE contractors. A combination of collaborative partnerships, sustainable practices and innovative technology helped Turner pre-plan every step of the construction process, saving both time and money on Cleveland’s largest construction project to date.


“Turner was able to complete this project ahead of schedule because of our collaboration with MMPI and other partners,” said John Dewine, construction project executive at Turner. “By working together with local contractors and using technology like BIM, we were able to identify creative ways to save time and money.”


Turner broke ground for the project in January 2011 and completed construction earlier this month. Covering 14.6 acres in downtown Cleveland, the facility spans more than one million sq. ft. The Global Center for Health Innovation fills 235,000 sq. ft with showroom, ballroom and retail space. The Cleveland Convention Center, at 767,000 sq. ft underground, features exhibit halls, flexible meeting rooms and column-free ballroom space.


During the first 12 months of the project, Turner recycled almost 99 percent of the demolition material and has recycled more than 2,600 cubic yards of construction waste. While the initial goal was to be 20 percent more energy efficient than baseline, the project is currently at nearly 30 percent above baseline. The project is pursuing LEED Silver certification.


The Cleveland Convention Center will open for its first event next month, and the Global Center for Health Innovation will host its first event in October. To learn more about the project, visit


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Steel Sculpture Competition Entries Due Sept. 13
Posted by Tasha Weiss on June 17, 2013 at 4:38 PM.

Make your structural steel visions come to life! How? By entering AISC’s third annual Steel Sculpture Competition!


If you’re an AISC full or associate member, join this year’s competition and create your own innovative steel sculpture for a chance to have your company featured in MSC and more.


Here are the rules:


  • The sculpture must be steel (and only steel), but shapes, sizes and steel type can be your personal preference.
  • The sculpture must be made entirely by your staff.
  • The finished sculpture must fit in a 2-ft by 2-ft by 2-ft box (for shipping purposes).
  • All entries must include a title and the name of the company submitting the project.
  • There’s no theme! But keep in mind the characteristics of steel: adaptable, economical, quick and sustainable.


Submit photos of your sculpture by September 13, 2013 to AISC’s Jenny McDonald at


From September 16-27, all entries will be posted to AISC’s Facebook page ( where they’ll be voted on by fans. The top five finalists will be put on display at the 2014 NASCC: The Steel Conference, March 26-29 in Toronto, where the ultimate winner will be chosen by attendees. The winner will also be featured in MSC and receive a catered lunch for their company.


Learn more about the competition at  


2013-steel-sculpture_500.jpgCheck out this year’s winning sculpture: “Steel Life-Cycle” (pictured left).


The competition is part of SteelDay, the structural steel industry’s largest educational and networking event, held nationwide. It’s scheduled for October 4 this year; mark your calendars! If you’re interested in hosting or attending an event, visit









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Steel Shots: Students Display Engineering Prowess at NSSBC
Posted by Tasha Weiss on June 17, 2013 at 10:19 AM.


Student team members from the University of Washington College of Engineering - the home team in this year’s National Student Steel Bridge Competition finals, held earlier this month - hustle to construct their steel bridge under the pressure of the clock. Photo: AISC


2013nssbcwinners_ucberkeley.jpgFor the second consecutive year, a team of students from the University of California, Berkeley (pictured left), have been named champions in the 2013 ASCE/AISC National Student Steel Bridge Competition (NSSBC), which took place May 31-June 1 at the University of Washington’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering in Seattle.


Also for the second straight year, second place overall went to the team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. University of California, Davis, took third place overall.


About 600 students from 49 qualifying teams convened to showcase their engineering skills in the competition finals. This inter-collegiate competition challenges civil engineering students to work together to design, fabricate and construct their own scaled steel bridges in the shortest time and under specific building constraints.


The bridges were judged in six key categories related to steel design and construction: construction speed; stiffness; lightness; construction economy; display; and efficiency. The teams with the best combined rankings across all six categories earn overall award recognition.


To view the top three winners in each category, see AISC’s press release. The complete competition rankings can be found at


You can also view photos from this year’s competition on AISC’s Facebook page at in the “NSSBC 2013” photo album. A video showing highlights from the competition will soon be available on AISC’s YouTube channel at


Next year’s NSSBC will be held May 23-24 at the University of Akron in Ohio. To learn more about the NSSBC, visit or

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‘Man of Steel’ Soars into Cinemas Tomorrow
Posted by Tasha Weiss on June 13, 2013 at 3:20 PM.

Are you as excited about the new “Man of Steel” movie as we are? It opens in cinemas everywhere tomorrow, June 14.


Based on the DC Comics character Superman, the film will be a reboot of the Superman film series, portraying the character’s origin story. (You can read more about the film on Wikipedia.)


The movie was filmed in the Chicago area, including some downtown locations not too far from AISC’s headquarters.


AISC’s Scott Melnick’s editorial from the January 1993 issue of MSC is called “The Man of Steel,” and you can learn how he came up with this Superman slogan: “They don’t call him the Man of Concrete.”

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Live AISC Webinar Tomorrow: Diaphragms for Steel-Framed Buildings
Posted by Tasha Weiss on June 12, 2013 at 1:37 PM.

You still have time to register for AISC’s live webinar happening tomorrow, June 13, focused on “Design of Diaphragms, Chords, and Collectors in Steel-Framed Buildings.”


The design of a lateral system for a building is not complete without a complete path delivering the load to the braced frames, moment frames or shear walls. Diaphragms serve this important function, providing the load path while also restraining the gravity system against sway buckling.


This live webinar will review the types of diaphragms often found in steel-framed buildings as well as the components of diaphragms. Special diaphragm strength requirements in ASCE 7 and special requirements for chords and collectors will be reviewed and design methodologies for diaphragm components will be presented.


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


Noon PDT
1 p.m. MDT
2 p.m. CDT
3 p.m. EDT


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.


Partial funding for this webinar is provided by the California and Vicinity Steel Information Council (CVSIC).


To register for the live webinar and learn more about other upcoming AISC webinars, visit

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NBIMS-US V3 Ballot Submission Period Now Open
Posted by Tasha Weiss on June 10, 2013 at 1:44 PM.

The ballot submission period for the National BIM Standard – United States Version 3 (NBIMS-US V3) is now open, giving all building professionals the opportunity to offer their ideas to influence the future use of building information modeling (BIM) in the U.S.


A BIM is a shared resource of knowledge about a facility that can be used to make decisions throughout its life cycle, from the initial idea, to design and construction, through daily operations and eventual demolition.


Because BIM covers all aspects of the building process, everyone in the construction industry will be impacted as the use of BIM becomes the standard operating procedure. Therefore, the National Institute of Building Sciences’ buildingSMART alliance is asking professionals from every sector in the building industry to participate in the development process of NBIMS-US V3. Ballots can amend or revise current NBIMS-US content or they can propose adding the latest technologies, processes and practices not yet included in the standard.


Since NBIMS Version 1- Part 1 was first released in 2007, the content of the standard has evolved, including information exchange standards for construction operations and product specifications. NBIMS-US V2 is a consensus-based standard and includes reference standards, information exchange standards (which are built upon the reference standards) and best practice guidelines to support users in their implementation of open BIM standards-based deliverables.


The ballot submission period for NBIMS-US V3 ends August 19, 2013.


You can view the schedule on the National BIM Standard website (


Individuals and organizations that are not yet NBIMS-US members can learn how to get involved. (Only members can submit ballots and vote on changes to the standard.)


NBIMS Project Committee members can download ballots now.

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