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.

 

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.

Resources and Continuing Education for Structural Engineers

I’ll admit that I’m biased, but structural engineers have the best job in the world. We’re needed to create safe sound structures while factoring in the effects of environmental forces using a combination of physics and experience. It takes a really well rounded individual to do all of that.

In my opinion, the key to being a well rounded professional is to never stop learning or seeking out new resources in your industry. I thought I’d share with you some resources that may be helpful to you as a structural engineer, from my own experience:

Continuing Education Webinars

Attending webinars online is a great way to get Continuing Education credits you need. Webinars enable you to stay sharp on topics that are continually changing and that you may need to adapt to in our industry.

Some of the resources engineers at Simpson Strong-Tie go to for webinars and CECs include:

ACI – American Concrete Institute

AISC – American Institute of Steel Construction

ASCE – American Society of Civil Engineers

AWC – American Wood Council

CFSEI – Cold-Formed Steel Engineers Institute

NCSEA –  National Council of Structural Engineers Association

SEAOSC – Structural Engineers Association of Southern California  

Engineering Associations

Training

Structural engineering associations often offer in person trainings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping in touch with fellow structural engineers means that you can talk shop and get some great advice about issues you face on the job. Some associations you can look into:

SEAINT- Structural Engineers Association – International 

NCSEA- National Council of Structural Engineers Associations 

SEAOC- Structural Engineers Association of California

SEAOSC- Structural Engineers Association of Southern California 

SEAOCC- Structural Engineers Association of Central California 

SEAOSD- Structural Engineers Association of San Diego

SEAU- Structural Engineers Association of Utah

ASCE- American Society Of Civil Engineers

ACI- American Concrete Institute

AISC- American Institute of Steel Construction

PCA- Portland Cement Association

PCI- Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute

CRSI- Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute

AISI- American Iron and Steel Institute

Simpson Strong-Tie also offers great software resources for structural engineers and other building industry professionals. What resources do you recommend? Let us know in the comments below.

How Social Media Can Help Structural Engineers With Their Business

I am pleased to introduce you to one of our newest members of the Simpson Strong-Tie team, Minara El-Rahman. She is our Social Media Manager here at Simpson Strong-Tie. Minara has extensive experience with digital/mobile marketing, social media marketing, engaging with online influencers and blogging. As structural engineers use online resources more and more, she will be contributing to the Structural Engineering blog to help you navigate using them. 

The last time we wrote about social media, we gave tips on how structural engineers can use social media to be better at their jobs. But we also believe that you can use social media to grow your business. The more touch points that you can have with your existing and potential clients, the better chance you have at forging a relationship with them. That’s what social media is all about, it is about engaging and fostering a relationship with others: whether it is with an individual, company, brand or your old college buddies.

Here are some tips for any structural engineer looking to grow his/her online presence:

Map Out Your Social Media Strategy

Think about where you want to be in terms of online presence. It is important to be where your clients are online. Do your potential clients have a page on Facebook? Do they gather and share industry news from LinkedIn? Once you decide where your clients are, start listening to their conversations, reading their posts and following them on their social media accounts so you can determine where you should be online and start to build your presence.  Try to narrow it down to a few social media platforms at first so that you can devote your time and resources to growing your social media presence. This is especially true if you are managing your social media content yourself, or requesting someone on staff to do it for you part time.

Make sure to take the time to think about how you define social media success at this stage. Is social media success a lift in brand/company awareness? Is it an increase in your social media fan base, number of retweets or traffic to your site? Once you have figured out what success looks like to you, write it down and craft your strategy and content around that criteria.

Create Engaging Content

Offer content that is informative and interesting to the audience you want to reach. For structural engineers, content that explains concepts such as the importance of a continuous load path in structures in high wind or seismic areas may show potential clients the value in working with a professional engineer. Whether you are writing a blog post, or sharing an image on Pinterest, content should improve knowledge, help to solve problems and spark conversation.

Map out your content ahead of time in a content calendar. It could be as basic as writing down your posts in a Word document and setting reminders in Outlook. Planning keeps you consistent and accountable. Consistency is key when it comes to engaging with clients on social media.

Think about creating content specific to the platform. Pinterest and Houzz are social media platforms that rely heavily on visuals, so content such as infographics, photos and BIMs are appropriate. For LinkedIn, in-depth articles about your industry tend to perform very well. Craft content around the platform so it appeals to who you want to reach.

Measure Successes

Don’t forget to check in on your measures of success on a monthly basis. This will help you gauge whether your social media efforts are paying off. If you are doing well, that’s great! If you notice that you are not quite hitting your goals, look at the numbers and adjust your strategy. Are you posting at a time when no one is looking at your content? There are a number of articles that recommend the best time to post content so that it will be seen. Is your content not resonating with readers? Try to change it up so that it really connects your readers with what they want to know.

And one final tip: be committed. Posting every once in a while or not responding quickly to readers’ comments and questions can negatively impact a firm’s brand and reputation. However, those that are active on social media and post regularly are able to build stronger relationships with clients, demonstrate their expertise and ultimately grow their business.

Are you using social media professionally? What are some tips you have for growing your own business using social media? Let us know in the comments below.

Social Media Tips for Structural Engineers

In January, our engineer Shane Vilasineekul wrote about his top ten mobile apps. Today we’re talking social media and how it can help you be better at your job. Now I know that the common notion of social media is that it is more of a place to goof off from work, but stay with me here. Think of social media as a place where people can meet. There is a big difference between bars versus a conference for professionals. While they are both places where people can meet in one spot, they perform different functions. Social media is the same way. It can be used for non-professional networking, but it can also be a helpful place where structural engineers can learn about new products, industry news and trends.

Here are ways that structural engineers can use social media:

Use Twitter for Industry Events and Trends: Twitter’s strongest point is its brevity. With a 140-character limit, tweets can really get to the point. Another reason that Twitter is useful is that it is often the social media platform where you see things unfold in real time. For example, you can search industry specific events and see tweets in live time and learn about the demonstrations and seminars your colleagues think are useful, the ones to skip, etc.

LinkedIn Is An Industry News Resource: LinkedIn is not just a place to show off your resume any more. LinkedIn is becoming a hub for industry news. Do you want to know what is going on with other structural engineers? You can join industry specific groups to share tips and ideas. It’s also good practice to follow companies and clients that you work with so you know when they launch a new product, promote a new project or even share their own social media content.

Subscribe to Blogs: Following structural engineering blogs like this one ensures that you never miss a beat about what other industry folks are saying. Subscribing to a blog post means that you can read all the content an industry blog has to offer all from the comfort of your inbox. Blogs also can cover day-of/breaking news that you can’t get from trade publications.

Facebook For Recommendations: While you may look at Facebook as a more family and friends zone, there is something to be said for interacting with fellow structural engineers on this platform. If you are friends with former classmates, you will find a bevy of articles that are helpful for you from an industry standpoint. You can also ask industry specific questions to your friends or ask for recommendations from people you know and trust. Following company pages opens up opportunities to give ideas for new products, learn new product uses, or even find out about new promotions and offers.

YouTube For Educational Videos: An educational video can be a lot more effective and useful than reading a paper. Seeing how a company does product testing may even take the guesswork from your own job. At Simpson Strong-Tie, we make videos for our YouTube channel so you can see our products in action whether it’s a test or even a DIY project.

I hope this blog post takes the guesswork out of social media for you. While these are some starter suggestions, the sky is the limit. What do you use social media for? Do you see professional benefits? Let us know in the comments section.