Adoption Overview for Fabricators

The use of steel as the preferred construction material will depend on graduating civil engineers and architects knowing steel properties and attributes. Future engineers and architects who have been exposed to both steel in the classroom and to the structural steel industry will, when practicing, confidently select steel as a design and construction solution.

Please remember that we are educating in steel the specifiers and designers of tomorrow. To find out how to get involved, contact Nancy Gavlin ([email protected]). 


    • Your involvement with a local university will project an image of a highly progressive company.

    • The involvement with a local university provides enormous public relations opportunities to your company. Public relations often translates into business opportunities with local A/E firms, general contractors, owners and developers.

    • Adopting-A-School will expose students to the structural steel industry and, through your company, to the wealth of technical information available from AISC. Students who have had this exposure will confidently select steel as a design solution, thus increasing the use of your products.

    • When steel is selected as a design solution, both your capital investment and market share are protected.

What follows are a number of suggested activities for you to consider in the ADOPT-A-SCHOOL program:


Make sure you get to know the educators who teach steel design. A call to the CE Department Head will help you determine who is teaching steel. (Nancy Gavlin at AISC (312) 670-5408 can be helpful in this regard). Extending an invitation to those who teach steel to visit your fabricating shop will break the ice. The objective is to let the faculty know that your company appreciates his/her efforts to present steel design correctly and interestingly-and that he/she can count on your support.

bullet_orangeOFFER PLANT TOURS

Invite those teaching steel to bring their students to visit your fabricating plant. When you have a guided tour, you are showing off not only your plant and steel products, but the people who represent you and the skill they apply as well. Keep in mind that how you treat the visiting students may be just as important as what they see or learn from the plant tour.

Advance planning makes a successful plant tour. Planning takes time; start your preparation early. Both management and plant personnel should be consulted.

Following is a helpful "checklist" which will greatly improve the chances for a successful plant tour:

  1. Appoint a planning committee to handle arrangements.

  2. Set a date far enough in advance to permit adequate planning schedule production to show all phases.

  3. Tell your employees about the tour; prepare them for their part; consult them.

  4. If possible, have a group of employees take a complete "test tour" with guides. Ask for their reactions, suggestions and criticisms.

  5. Have nametags or badges ready for students when they arrive.

  6. Receive all visitors as important people.

  7. Have the group greeted by a top executive of the company.

  8. Orient visitors with a brief explanation of the company and its operation.

  9. Provide a guide for approximately each 10 visitors.

  10. Use guides who know the steel products, fabrication, erection and use.

  11. Run the plant tour on a schedule and stick to it.

  12. Do not allow the tour to become mere sightseeing. Make it meaningful.

  13. Make sure the route selected shows enough to give visitors a clear picture of the fabrication operation. Eliminate all possible safety hazards.

  14. If practical, invite students to box lunch.

  15. Give students some "take home" material.

  16. Evaluate the plant tour carefully and objectively. Make the next tour an improvement.


    1. Keep talks at the level of the group. Use familiar terms and comparisons.

    2. Speak up. Your student visitors want to hear your story. Wait until the group gathers around you at a particular stop before starting an explanation. Keep it informal; always ask for questions.

    3. Keep the group together and give your time to everyone. Do not let one or two in the group monopolize you.

    4. When possible, introduce your group to the operator of a unit at which you stop. Employees take pride in showing their equipment and explaining how it operates.

    5. Watch stragglers; their safety is one of your responsibilities.

    6. Countless questions will be asked, and you will know most of the answers. Those you do not know, try to get answers before the visitor leaves, if possible.


Every year, this major conference attracts high numbers of steel fabricators, designers, architects and construction managers. In addition, the North American Steel Construction Conference is the only event where companies who supply the industry are exhibiting.

Support the travel of local educators to attend this major event representing the structural steel industry in North America. In addition to numerous valuable technical sessions, educators benefit from a session especially designed to serve the needs of university educators.


Most ASCE Student Chapters have a faculty advisor from the ranks of the CE Department faculty. If you or your employees are ASCE members, student chapters like to have outside practitioners as advisors involved in their student activities.

The advantages of your involvement are:

  1. It assures that civil engineering students are exposed to outside individuals representing the structural steel industry.

  2. Student Chapters meet frequently and often need speakers. Your involvement assures that the outside speakers making presentations and the subjects presented are predominantly steel oriented.

  3. It facilitates recruitment of civil engineers by fabricators.

  4. It provides public relations opportunities to your company.


The Student Steel Bridge Competition challenges civil engineering students to a competition that includes design, hands-on experience with structural steel and the use of construction practices in a structure. The competition is now the premier project for civil engineering students.

As a steel fabricator, you can help by donating steel for a bridge to be entered in the contest by the university you ADOPTED. Invite the student team to visit your shop and make use of your facilities. Your association and/or fabricator can be helpful by volunteering to be a judge in the regional competition where the university you ADOPTED will participate.

It is important that you support the Student Steel Bridge Competition. Participating civil engineering students get fabrication experience-ordering, cutting, drilling, welding. Most important, through firsthand experience, the students gain appreciation for the strength and efficiency of structural steel.


It is important that steel fabricators become more involved in cooperative education programs, especially for civil engineering students. These programs have the potential to familiarize future engineers and other design professionals with the advantages of structural steel and to give them a better understanding of our industry.


Cooperative Education is an academic program in which college students are employed in positions directly related to their major field of study. Cooperative education is a three-way partnership between a student, an employer and a university or college.


    • College students are typically excellent employees - prepared to learn and enthusiastic about new challenges.

    • Graduate designers who previously worked as cooperative education students in the structural steel industry will have a greater appreciation for the comparative advantages of steel, deeper understanding of practices of the industry and improved ability of design for efficient fabrication and erection.

    • If your firm hires college graduates, cooperative education is an excellent and cost-effective way to evaluate, recruit and train entry-level employees. During cooperative education, the employer has ample time to observe the student's potential and the student can thoroughly investigate career opportunities with the employer.

    • Cooperative education facilitates staffing adjustments for the ups and downs of the business cycle. There is no obligation for an employer to offer permanent employment, and co-op students usually are not eligible for unemployment compensation.

    • Cooperative education is a convenient way to staff for seasonal peaks.

    • Most universities have cooperative education staff who can assist you in becoming active in this program as part of the ADOPT-A-SCHOOL program.