Building Connections at Washington State University

Building Connections at Washington State University

In 2021 SImpson Strong-Tie hosted a “Building Connections” symposium at Washington State University. The well-attended event provided our team the opportunity to teach WSU engineering students about the construction industry, common construction methods, our products and our company. Ryan Edwards, Simpson Strong-Tie Senior Business Specialist for Mass Timber and Offsite Construction, co-hosted the symposium and in this blog post reflects on the experience.

Simpson Strong-Tie Team: Ron Bruce, Brad Maier, Jeremy Gilstrap, Zac Page, Ryan Edwards, Phil-Hui, Jim Mattison
Simpson Strong-Tie Team: Ron Bruce, Brad Maier, Jeremy Gilstrap, Zac Page, Ryan Edwards, Phil-Hui, Jim Mattison

In November 2021, Simpson Strong-Tie hosted our 5th annual “Building Connections” Student Symposium at Washington State University. We have a variety of ties to WSU. Not only is this a leading university for structural materials testing and research, but they also have the Simpson Strong-Tie® Research and Testing Lab, which tests and develops the building materials of the future.

Elements ranging from log homes, mass timber and composite decking to panels made from recycled wind turbines and concrete mixed with apple peels are researched at the lab. Nearly every composite decking now in use was initially developed at WSU. Hosting this symposium is one of the ways we give back to our community and help our industry, all in the spirit of our founder Barc Simpson’s eighth Principle of Business, “Give Back.”   

Washington State University Students attending the WSU Symposium
Washington State University Students attending the WSU Symposium

For this event, we invited WSU students studying civil engineering, architecture and construction management. It was exciting to see future engineers, architects, construction managers and more all sharing this experience with us and getting a chance to speak with me and my Simpson Strong-Tie colleagues. We offered them a chance to connect with students in adjacent disciplines and shared a glimpse into the professional world they will soon be joining.  

Anchor pull test
Anchor pull test

Additionally, at this symposium, we often bring in two or three industry guest speakers to share their career journeys and advice from someone who once was in their shoes and now has a successful career.     

WSU students drilling Simpson Strong-Tie fasteners
WSU students drilling Simpson Strong-Tie fasteners

This event also gives us a chance to educate students on who Simpson Strong-Tie is and how we can be a trusted advisor and resource in the future. We set up demo stations where students learn about various products and get hands-on opportunities to install the products.  

Student using the Quik Drive® Cordless
Student using the Quik Drive® Cordless

This included being able to use our Quik Drive auto stand up auto-feed screw driving system as well as sink our structural screws into steel and wood members. Students also got to experience what it’s like to install mechanical Titen HD® and Strong-Bolt® 2 anchors and adhesive anchors into concrete.  To show the products’ performance, we subjected the anchors to a pull test.  

Testing Demo in the Simpson Strong-Tie® Research and Testing Laboratory at WSU
Testing Demo in the Simpson Strong-Tie® Research and Testing Laboratory at WSU

WSU professors tested a cross-laminated timber (CLT) beam to failure using some of their impressive testing equipment. Other things discussed included teaching students about how a new generation of structural fasteners are upending the old methods of making connections and showcasing Simpson Strong-Tie’s breadth of line for connection hardware.

Mass timber test with Dr. Bender using the WSU testing equipment
Mass timber test with Dr. Bender using the WSU testing equipment

All in all, this event is a lot of fun. It’s a kick to watch a student seeing a building product for the first time and learning about the exciting features and benefits that it has to offer. A big shout-out to Ron, Brad, Phil and Zac for helping bring the symposium to life. I know this event left a positive impression on the students about Simpson Strong-Tie as a company. Given the intelligent and enthusiastic participation they displayed, I wouldn’t be surprised if you ran into one of them one day in an office meeting or on a jobsite. 

2021 "Building Connections" symposium at Washington State University
2021 “Building Connections” symposium at Washington State University
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Ryan Edwards

Author: Ryan Edwards

Ryan Edwards is a Senior Business Specialist for Mass Timber and Offsite Construction

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