For the first half-dozen years of my professional career, my experience with cold-formed steel (CFS) consisted of sizing studs for non-structural walls and red-marking the bracing details on architectural plans. When the dotcom bubble burst, my firm needed to shift its focus from high-tech commercial and industrial to more multifamily design work. Several developers we worked with built with CFS, so in addition to designing condominiums instead of cleanrooms, I was designing CFS.
Less than 10% of engineers have any exposure to CFS design as part of their undergraduate education. OK – so this is based on an informal survey of about 50 colleagues, but I suspect if I were to hire a market research firm for lots of money, I’d pretty much get the same response.
Maybe this explains why a majority of CFS design is done by a relatively small group of engineers – probably the 10% who studied it in school.
But even though many engineers may never do significant CFS design, all engineers should have a working knowledge of how to design these elements. Has any of this ever happened to you?
- You spend an inordinate amount of time reviewing CFS shop drawings for a curtain wall because you’re not sure what you’re looking at.
- You turn down a job from a good client because it requires CFS design, and you are too busy to learn what you need to know to complete the project.
- A small building in a larger project you are designing is CFS, and you lose money on this portion of the project because of your limited training and/or experience.
So… what is an engineer to do? Here are a handful of helpful resources – some may be dated, but the concepts still ring true:
Cold-Formed Steel Engineers Institute
- The Lost Specifications Section – Cold-Formed Metal Framing
- Using Cold-Formed Steel Members – Where Do I Begin?
- Specifying Cold-Formed Steel Framing
- Accommodating Building Deflections – What every EOR should know about accommodating deflections in secondary cold-formed steel systems. . .
What new types of design have you needed to learn to stay competitive in today’s market? Let us know by posting a comment.