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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.