5 Tips to Stay Informed on Construction News and Industry Updates

For a structural engineer working on multiple projects in various stages of design and construction, it can be challenging to keep up to date on the latest industry trends. However, many of us in the construction industry enjoy learning about new construction techniques and unique projects. Being educated about new technology and design tools can also increase efficiency in the office.

To make it easier to catch up on pertinent industry news, we are sharing our top five tips and shortcuts.

1. Make Time to Stay Informed

Blocking off time on your calendar will enable you to catch up on industry news.

Make sure you block off some time on your calendar each week to read up on construction news. Pick a consistent day and time (if possible) that is usually a little slower and less likely to be booked with meetings. At our office, Monday mornings and Friday afternoons tend to be the best times.

2. Subscribe to Industry Newsletters

After you block off time on your calendar, the next step is to subscribe to a few construction industry newsletters. Depending on the newsletter, you can sign up for a hard copy or have them delivered electronically to your inbox. Here are some great construction industry newsletters to get you started:

  • Structural Engineers Association Newsletters: If you haven’t signed up for your local city or state SEA newsletter, you should start here. Many structural engineering association chapters have newsletters. For example, the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California has a monthly online newsletter. The state of Texas offers an online quarterly journal, and a few local chapters, including Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston, have their own newsletters. With a quick Google search, you can find one in your area.
  • ICC eNews: Subscribe to the International Code Council’s weekly digital newsletter for ICC news, programs and industry events.
  • Civil + Structural Engineer e-News: Sign up on the home page of their website.
  • Hanley Wood newsletters: You can choose from more than 30 different online industry newsletters focused on residential construction and remodeling, or commercial design and construction.
  • Structural Report® newsletter: Subscribe to this quarterly print and online newsletter for structural engineers and architects that provides industry and building safety news and Simpson Strong-Tie product information.
  • Strong-Tie News: For a quick read, sign up for our monthly company newsletter sent via email. The e-news features new products and software, literature, videos, industry news and training events.
  • Concrete News: If you are involved in concrete construction and repair, this triannual print and digital newsletter has articles on the latest code changes, industry news and Simpson Strong-Tie product solutions.

3. Attend a Technical Webinar

Webinars are an easy way to stay connected to your profession and the construction industry while learning new things. As an added bonus, some webinars offer CEUs or PDH credits so you can stay current with professional development requirements. Click here to find out our top three reasons why you should attend webinars.

Here is a list of organizations that offer webinars that many of our engineers attend:

 4. Get Out to a Live Training Event

There are many courses devoted to improving building standards and the overall safety of structures. . We provide hundreds of classes to engineers, architects, builders and code officials each year, so make sure to sign up for a workshop in your area or to try one of our online courses.

Don’t forget to attend technical conferences, too. The Structural Engineering Institute (part of ASCE) has multiple conferences throughout the year that help you earn CEU and PDH credits. The American Wood Council has an event calendar with live trainings and webinars on hot topics in the industry, also.

 5. Talk with Other Structural Engineers

It’s so easy to take this tip for granted. We sometimes forget that the greatest asset and resource we have are our colleagues. At Simpson Strong-Tie, we offer “lunch and learn” sessions where different departments share initiatives that affect the business. If you work in an engineering firm with different specialties, a lunch-and-learn session is an easy way for everyone to find out about a new project or design challenge.

Another great way to connect with fellow structural engineers is to take part in networking events with structural engineering organizations. Here are some to look into:

There are also several professional LinkedIn groups, like this one, that provide not only educational content, but also a way for you to ask questions and hear the thoughts and opinions of your peers.

These are a few tips to get you started, but there are myriad resources to help you stay informed, including traditional trade magazines, industry blogs and social media sites. Simpson Strong-Tie is always here to help, as well. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to learn about industry news and our latest products and resources.

 

3 Hot Tips for Structural Engineers Who Want to Earn Education Credits and Stay Sharp

Written by Minara El-Rahman in collaboration with the Simpson Strong-Tie Training Department.

Do you ever get so busy that you can’t keep up with the training opportunities that are available? We have previously shared online resources and webinars that are available to structural engineers, but did you know that you can take advantage of Simpson Strong-Tie regional training centers that offer complimentary workshops and classes about proper specification, product installation and inspection of connectors and structural systems? Here are some tips on staying current with your training.

Simpson Strong-Tie training courses and webinars are focused on improving building standards and the overall safety of structures. With eight training centers across North America, Simpson Strong-Tie provides hundreds of complimentary classes to engineers, architects, builders and code officials each year. In fact, we have trained more than 24,000 participants online and in-person in 2016 alone.

“The workshops are very interactive,” explained Charlie Roesset, Director of Training for Simpson Strong-Tie. “Depending on the course, students may have the opportunity to view product samples or take part in product testing and installations.”

Tip #1 Make Training Offerings Work for You

If you specialize in a specific discipline, look for courses that are targeted to your area of interest or expertise. Simpson Strong-Tie courses include a broad range of topics from anchor system installation and engineered wood frame construction to seismic and high-wind design. We also incorporate the latest building-code updates and industry trends into our training curriculum. No matter where you are in your professional career, we offer a course that’s right for you. There are introductory courses as well as more advanced workshops for repeat and seasoned attendees.

Training participants receive a certificate of attendance with professional development hours (PDHs) at the end of each workshop, and may earn continuing education units (CEUs) and/or learning units (LUs) by completing additional requirements. Simpson Strong-Tie is a registered education provider with a number of industry organizations and associations including CSI, BIA, ACIA, AIBD, ICC, AIA* and IACET**.

Tip #2 Find Trainings That Are Current

Do your research to find workshops and online courses that are regularly updated to reflect changes within the industry. For example, we have regular trainings that focus on the new seismic retrofit ordinances in various municipalities on the West Coast (such as Los Angeles’ Soft-Story Retrofit Ordinance) and others on high-wind design and construction in the Southeast. Our trainings are tailored to your design needs based on your practice’s location.

Full-day workshops typically run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Classes are often tailored toward specific audiences types to ensure that the training is appropriate and effective. Many courses are team-taught by registered engineers to provide in-depth technical expertise in the subject matter. While much of the instruction is technical in nature, many real-life examples and hands-on demonstrations are provided to help all attendees fully understand the material presented.

Tip #3 Hear What Other Structural Engineers Have to Say

Training

It is always a good sign when others in your field have good things to say about the courses they have taken. Below are some comments past participants have said about our training offerings:

Fred B., S.E., an engineer from Las Vegas, NV, has been a regular attendee of Simpson Strong-Tie workshops. He says the training keeps him informed of topics relevant to his industry and is a great way to keep up with his professional development hours. “Some of the courses offered by other groups are just not that interesting and they can be quite expensive. Simpson programs are interesting, hands-on and free. It’s the whole package.”

Bob N., an engineer from Richmond, VA, wrote, “Keep up the good work; I have found your seminars to be well done, pertinent, and useful. We also specify a lot of your products because of the training and the fact that you have an excellent product line.”

Kathy P., an engineer from Somerville, TX, shares: “You guys are so great! You teach well and keep it interesting. . . . . You support the industry to the benefit of everyone, not just your bottom line, and you make educational credits cost effective. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

Sign up for a workshop and find out more about Simpson Strong-Tie training programs, including our latest online courses, by visiting www.strongtie.com/workshops.

* Simpson Strong-Tie is registered with the American Institute of Architects, Continuing Education System (AIA CES) as a provider of AIA Learning Units (AIA LUs).

** Simpson Strong-Tie is accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and is authorized to issue the IACET CEU.

 

 

Top Three Reasons Why Structural Engineers Should Attend Webinars

We encourage all our employees to always keep learning and seeking out resources that can stimulate new ideas or help improve processes in their jobs. Webinars are a great way for you to stay engaged in your profession and learn new things about the industry. They mix the convenience of online availability with the interactivity of live seminars, and because some are free or offered at a much lower cost than live trainings, they make it even easier to stay up to date on current issues in your field. Our top three reasons why you should attend structural engineering webinars are below:

Close up shot of webinar on a laptop.

Close up shot of webinar on a laptop.

Some Webinars Offer Continuing Education Credits

Webinars for structural engineers can be very useful for staying current with professional development requirements. Look to see if the webinar you are interested in attending offers credits. Simpson Strong-Tie offers a wide range of webinars that allow structural engineers to earn CEU and PDH credits. There are plenty of other professional organizations that offer accredited webinars for structural engineers, also. Paul McEntee shares his list of recommended professional resources (including webinars) for structural engineers here.

Learn About Code Changes and Requirements

Staying up to date on code changes and requirements is one of the reasons why continuing education is so important. The Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC) has a helpful lunchtime webinar series that delves into 2015 International Building Code (IBC) changes. Simpson Strong-Tie webinars always review current code requirements for the kinds of structural design under discussion. For example, the Best Practices on Prefabricated Wood Shearwall Design webinar covers code reports on shearwall applications.

Learn About the Latest Products and Technology

 If you can’t make it to a live training session, using webinars to learn about the most recent products and technology is an effective way to stay current in the field. Whether you want to learn about the latest in prefabricated Strong-Wall® Shearwall panels or to gain fuller understanding of Best Practices for FRP Strengthening Design, webinars can help you design using the most advanced technology.

What was the best webinar you’ve attended? Why was it so good, or what was it you learned? Let us know in the comments below.

Three Pieces of Advice for Structural Engineering Grads

If you are a civil engineering student finishing your degree, you are probably starting to explore all the options and opportunities available in the workforce. While structural engineering may be a specialized discipline, there are many paths and backgrounds that can lead someone into an exciting career that is innovatively transforming modern development in cities and towns all over the world.

We recently interviewed three of our engineers to learn what got them interested in the field and how they pursued their first job and built their career as a structural engineer with Simpson Strong-Tie.

Network and Make Contacts

Structural Engineer Griff Shapack headshot

Griff Shapack

Griff Shapack is an Associate FRP Design Engineer for Simpson Strong-Tie. He has bachelors and master’s degrees in civil engineering from North Carolina State University.

“I started looking for employment opportunities six months before graduation. I was working in a structures lab during graduate school, and the lab manager shared a job description for an Associate FRP Design Engineer at Simpson Strong-Tie with a few students. I knew I wanted to work under a P.E., and had experience and interest in FRP design, so I applied.”

“One of the things I love best about my job is that I get to go out and give presentations to structural engineers with our sales reps and field engineers. It’s great to be able to interface directly with our customers.”

“My biggest recommendations for engineering students is to reach out to people you already know in the industry. Classmates and professors can have valuable contacts at firms where you want to work.” 

Persistence Pays Off – Don’t Give Up

Structural Engineer Jhalak Vasavada

Jhalak Vasavada

Jhalak Vasavada is currently a Research & Development Engineer for Simpson Strong-Tie. She has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Maharaja Sayajirao (M.S.) University of Baroda, Gujarat, India, and a master’s degree in structural engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL. After graduation, she worked for an environmental consulting firm called TriHydro Corporation and as a structural engineer with Sargent & Lundy, LLC, based in Chicago, IL. She worked on the design of power plant structures such as chimney foundations, boiler building and turbine building steel design and design of flue gas ductwork. She is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan.

“When I was in school for my master’s degree in Chicago, my professor recommended that I apply for a job at a firm called Sargent & Lundy. Unfortunately, at the time I applied, there were no openings at the firm, so I took another job until there was an opening. I interviewed there and got the job. It was a wonderful experience because it was in this role that I had the chance to meet my mentor. Having a female mentor was great in terms of real-life experience and advice. In fact, we still keep in touch.”

“When I moved to California, I wanted to find a job that allowed me to do something different. I applied for a job with Simpson Strong-Tie, and it was the best decision ever because I always get to work on new and exciting projects. My recommendation for students is to be persistent in trying to get a job at the place where you want to work.”

Appreciate and Learn from Every Experience That Comes Your Way

Structural Engineer Neelima Tapata

Neelima Tapata

Neelima Tapata is an R&D engineer for the Fastening Systems product division at Simpson Strong-Tie. She works on the development, testing and code approval of fasteners. She joined Simpson Strong-Tie in 2011, bringing 10 years of design experience in multi- and single-family residential structures in cold-formed steel and wood, curtain-wall framing design, steel structures and concrete design. Neelima earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from J.N.T.U in India and her M.S. in civil engineering with a focus on structural engineering from Lamar University. She is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of California.

“I started searching for a job while I was finishing my master’s program. I started the search about a month before I graduated. My first job was in a consulting firm, and it was a fast-paced environment where you learned a lot on your own. My experience working for different consulting firms gave me a chance to concentrate on designing for a niche market, but my current role helps me see the big picture when it comes to design.”

“One of the things that I love most about my current role is that it allows me to take on multiple projects, so I’m always learning something new. It’s very important to stay curious. I also enjoy interacting with different departments in Simpson Strong-Tie. It gives me an opportunity to take on tasks that structural engineers may not normally get, like writing posts for an interesting publication like our Structural Engineering blog!”

“My advice for young structural engineers is to appreciate every experience that life sends your way. You may not realize it at the time, but it all ends up helping you get where you are now.”

If you are going to receive your degree this year or you know someone who is just starting out or looking to take a different path, Simpson Strong-Tie is hiring! We have several job opportunities in our engineering department. Check out our full list of job openings – then bookmark it! https://www.strongtie.com/about/careers/job-posting/engineerjobs

Facebook Tips for Structural Engineers

facebook-logoIn our last social media–related blog post, I shared the Top 5 LinkedIn Groups to Follow for Structural Engineers. Following groups on LinkedIn allows you to share content, post or view job openings, network and help establish yourself as a key opinion leader in your industry. But what about critical design questions or help? How do you deal with office dynamics or a difficult client as a structural engineer?

LinkedIn groups may assist with questions like these, but there are other social media platforms that might make it easier to have a more in-depth discussion about issues that you face. While LinkedIn is certainly an important social media platform for professionals such as structural engineers, it is not the largest social media platform. That title goes to the social media giant Facebook. Facebook has the social advantage of engaging more than 1.7 billion active users.

You are probably using Facebook already for personal social networking. However, there are some professional applications for structural engineers on Facebook that you may not have heard about. Here are some Facebook tips for structural engineers that you can use to jumpstart your professional social media arsenal:

Follow Industry-Related Pages

There are a variety of pages that you can follow on Facebook to give you an idea of what is happening in the industry. Following and engaging with pages like Structural Engineering World for design inspiration or Civil + Structural Engineer magazine for project management ideas allows you to have a more professionally focused newsfeed around content that matters to you (while still allowing time for cat memes and Buzzfeed quizzes if you want those, too). One useful page for engineers is the Autodesk Revit page, because it has things like tips on how to share large BIM files.

Join Structural Engineering Groups

Groups are a great way to connect with other Facebook users. As a structural engineer, you are bound to come across an issue that you would like some advice on. By joining a group of other structural engineers, you can ask design questions, questions about calculations and get tips on the best tools for your profession. I would ask your colleagues which groups they recommend joining.

Jumpstart Your Job Search

If you are looking for a new position, I am sure that you already know about LinkedIn. But did you know that there are things like the Career Center App on Facebook pages like the ASCE? The app works for employers looking to hire, too!

Do you have Facebook tips that would you recommend for structural engineer? Let us know in the comments below.

Top 5 LinkedIn Groups to Follow for Structural Engineers

MacBook Pro Retina with LinkedIn home page on the screen

A while back, we posted about how structural engineers can use social media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. We discussed how structural engineers can use LinkedIn as a tool to find out more about industry news. While that is one way to use LinkedIn, another way to get even closer to the pulse of your industry is to join industry-specific LinkedIn groups.

LinkedIn groups are places within LinkedIn that allow professionals to share content, post or view job openings, network, and help establish key opinion leaders in a particular industry.

If you are new to LinkedIn, it can be challenging to find all of the LinkedIn groups that you may want to join. We compiled a list of structural engineering LinkedIn groups that can help you get started:

American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE): This group was initially formed to allow networking between engineers. It has now grown to over 200,000 members and includes other professionals who work in the industry. Since this is a large group, there are more focused sub-groups that you can also join. We recommend using the ASCE group for general information.

ASCE: Structural Engineering: This is a sub-group of ASCE. The members of this LinkedIn group are mainly structural engineers. This is a good place for discussion and asking for feedback on work-related topics.

American Concrete Institute: This is a great group for structural engineers who work with concrete. You can connect not just with engineers, but also with professionals in the concrete production, design and construction industries.

SEAOC-Structural Engineers Association of California: If you are a structural engineer in California, we highly recommend this group. If you are interested in structural and seismic engineering, this is the group to join.

NCSEA: The National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA) is a great group to join to get industry information, find resources including webinars, and hear about local industry events and meetings.

While there are a lot more LinkedIn groups, we hope that the ones we have shared are useful for you. What LinkedIn groups do you recommend? Let us know in the comments below.

Introducing Our New Website

We know many of you visit our website on a regular basis for product and technical information and to use our software, calculator tools and other web apps. If you haven’t visited strongtie.com recently, it has a new look and several new features, including enhanced search and browsing and a mobile-friendly design. Here are some of the new features and site improvements:

  • Update-to-date product information: If there is a new code report, catalog or product you will be able to find that information on our new website first. It has the latest product and technical information while retaining the same features and information you expect.
  • Enhanced search and browsing: You can now search for our products based on specific product attributes. Our enhanced search capabilities allow you to explore our collection of products by applying filters so you can quickly and easily browse and find the products that you are looking for.
  • Mobile-friendly: Our new site has a responsive design that allows you to view the site in any format. From large desktops to mobile devices, you can view our site in the office or while on the go.
  • Enhanced Visuals: We have added new and improved photographs, illustrations and graphics so that you can see our products in greater detail.

We hope the new website better serves your design and technical needs. If you have any suggestions, comments or feedback, please email us at web@strongtie.com or leave a comment below.

str-eng-blog-new-site-v2

Simpson Strong-Tie Now Offering a Structural Engineering/Architecture/Construction Management Student Scholarship Program

We know it’s tough going to school and majoring in structural engineering or architecture. You probably weren’t aware of this, but I went to Brooklyn Technical High School and we were required to take mechanical drafting, electrical engineering and wood/metal shop before we selected majors at the end of our sophomore year. I actively avoided majoring in architecture and engineering because, while I was a whiz at the lathe in metal shop, I was much less talented in some of the other engineering subjects.

draft1

Mechnical drafting class in Brooklyn Technical High School. (Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Technical High School)

I sometimes wish I had been better at them, because getting a degree in structural engineering and architecture isn’t just cool (where else can you get college credit or money to break stuff?), it can help you improve the lives of others and even make them safer. Simpson Strong-Tie Company, Inc. established the structural engineering/architecture scholarship program to assist architecture and structural engineering students by supporting their education and encourage them to design and build safer structures in their local communities.

And it seems as though there are more and more students committed to those goals, too. Last year, Simpson Strong-Tie awarded 49 scholarships of $2,000. The year before, Simpson Strong-Tie awarded 38 scholarships of $1,000. This year, Simpson Strong-Tie is offering up to 67 scholarship awards of $2,000 for the 2016/2017 academic school year. Applicants must be enrolled as juniors or seniors in full-time undergraduate study (60 semester hours or equivalent) majoring in architecture, structural engineering or construction management at the following colleges or universities for the entire upcoming academic year:

  • Arizona State University
  • Boise State University
  • Brigham Young University
  • California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
  • California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo
  • California State University, Fresno
  • California State University, Fullerton
  • California State University, Long Beach
  • California State University, Sacramento
  • Clemson University
  • Florida International University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Iowa State University
  • Louisiana State University
  • Milwaukee School of Engineering
  • NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering
  • North Carolina State University
  • Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Oklahoma State University
  • Oregon Institute of Technology
  • Oregon State University
  • Penn State University Park
  • Portland State University
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette
  • Southern California Institute of Architecture
  • Texas Tech University
  • University of Arizona
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of California, Irvine
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Florida
  • University of Idaho
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Miami
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • University of North Texas
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Texas, Arlington
  • University of Texas, Austin
  • University of Washington
  • University of Wyoming
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Washington State University

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The scholarship application will be available on the Simpson Strong-Tie website as of March 15, so if you know any students enrolled in a structural engineering, architecture or construction management major at the schools listed above, you should advise them about this wonderful opportunity. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know in the comments below.