Certification Newsletters

Being more participant-responsive is one of AISC Certification's goals for 2018 — and better communication with you, our certified participants is one step toward reaching that goal. We want our communication to be plain-spoken, to the point, and include information that will benefit you. Through this quarterly newsletter, we will share the latest news from AISC Certification and how the news might affect you. We will also include a quality-related article, providing insight into a hot-button, industry issue or highlight an element of the certification program that will add value to your investment in quality.

If you have a topic suggestion or questions, please contact AISC Certification at certification@aisc.org or 312.670.7520. Thank you and happy reading!

Newsletter 2018-Q1

Mark's Remarks: Being More Participant-Responsive

VPWelcome to the 2018 First Quarter Issue of the AISC Certification Newsletter! In this, and future newsletters, we will provide news and information with a focus on how you can get the most value from your investment in certification.This issue includes “AISC Certification: More Than a Standard,” by Larry Martof, Director of Qualify Management Company — a preview of his upcoming Quality Track presentation at the NASCC: The Steel Conference in Baltimore, April 11-13, 2018. Also included, is the latest certification bulletin, “Bulletin 2018-01 for Scheduling Site Audits.”   

Just a few days after joining the staff of AISC last May, I met with the certification department staff to share my expectations for the future of the certification program. Providing Recognizable Value was the theme of my presentation.  “To be worthwhile,” I said, “the Certification Program must provide value to those who rely on it.” During that meeting, we reviewed how jurisdictions, agencies and specifiers rely on the program to set a basic level of quality for their projects. And how our participants — the fabricators, erectors, and component manufacturers rely on the program to improve their management systems, quality, and to differentiate themselves from their competition.

From that meeting, we developed some initial goals:

  • Become a more participant-responsive program
  • Conduct a comprehensive and rigorous audit, providing recognized value to the participant and the construction marketplace
  • Advance the structural steel industry through certification, auditing, and education

My focus in this issue will be on our goal of “becoming a more participant-responsive program.”  

Coming to AISC from the fabrication industry, my perspective is that of a certified participant. In addition to 25 years with an AISC-Certified fabricator, my experience includes engineering design and construction project management — where I learned to always add value through my work and never waste time or money. Adding value, reducing waste and improving efficiency are key principles behind our efforts to become more participant-responsive.

During my travels, I have appreciated hearing about your adventures on the path to better quality and your interactions with the Certification Department. You have expressed your commitment to our programs, their value, and the effort it took to earn the coveted certificate. Most of you shared positive stories about how we have treated you. A few, however, gave examples that made me cringe.  

With increased acceptance of AISC Certification as the way to set a project’s expected level of quality, more specifiers are including the certification requirement in their documents — and more fabricators and erectors are becoming certified. To minimize the growing pains, we have added additional contract auditors and made improvements to the way audits are scheduled. And, though we have nearly 1,600 participants in the program, conduct about 35 audits each week, and correspond with our participants hundreds of times each month, “cringe-worthy” experiences are never acceptable!  

My commitment to you: If you will share your certification experiences with me (good and bad), we will continue to improve our responsiveness and provide better value for your certification investment. 

 “Give them quality. That's the best kind of advertising” -Milton S. Hershey


Mark W. Trimble, PE
Vice President of Certification
312 670 5436 (Office)
312 720 0131 (Cell)

NASCC's Quality Track

Are you looking to learn more about quality? Look no further then the Quality Track at the NASCC: The Steel Conference!

The conference held in Baltimore, MD on April 11-13, 2018 is offering 13 sessions focusing on a range of topics to help increase your industry knowledge and will assist in strengthening your company’s quality management program. There will be targeted sessions for both fabricators and erectors, plus three sessions concentrating on the new certification standard and its future rollout: Certification Standard for Steel Fabrication and Erection, and Manufacturing of Metal Components (AISC 207-16).

For a complete list of 2018 topics, session descriptions, and times, please download the Quality Track Agenda.

For a list of all previous quality sessions, please visit NASCC Quality Track Sessions.


AISC Certification: More Than a Standard

The below preview article is for Session Q1: Certification is More than Just a Standard, which will be presented on Wednesday, April 11th, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. It kicks off the Quality Track at the NASCC: The Steel Conference. For a complete list of topics, session descriptions, and times, please download the Quality Track Agenda


AISC Certification: More Than a Standard
By Larry Martof, Director of Quality Management Company

There is a misconception that the “standard” encompasses all of the requirements you must adhere to and be audited too.  In reality, it is only one piece of the certification pyramid so, let’s explore this further.

The steel construction industry relies on many documents to drive quality and design.  These cover both informative and normative references.  Informative references provide good information that can be helpful to assist the user with a particular topic while normative references contain requirements that must be followed.  Contract documents will identify the standards that must be followed, and normative may specify a particular version or just use the current edition.  But there is no single document that encompasses the entire construction project.  It is the same with certification programs; the standard is only one of many documents that provide the criteria to be followed.  But there is a defined hierarchy to the many normative documents used in the AISC certification programs.

Certification Pyramid

At the top of the document pyramid lays the program requirements.  This document provides the administrative requirements for the execution of the certification program.  They contain the process for application, scheduling, auditing, certification decision, appeals, and complaints.  They also establish the other normative references used as requirements in the program.  For example, the Certified Building Fabricator Program starts with the program requirements.  These requirements state that the AISC Certification Program for Structural Steel Fabricators – Standard for Steel Building Structures, 2006 is used as a normative document and refers to it as the standard. So it becomes the second tier of our document pyramid.  The standard goes on to references other industry normative documents such as the AISC Code of Standard Practice, AISC Steel Building Specification, AWS D1.1 Welding code and the RCSC Bolt Specification.  It also identifies the contract documents as another set of project-specific normative documents. This completes our document pyramid.

Why is this important to an applicant or participant in an AISC certification program?  Well, in each of the standards, we find a statement in Section 3 that states: “The Fabricator/Erector/Manufacturer shall have the latest editions available and be able to demonstrate the ability to work to and meet the requirements of:” which is followed by a list of reference documents.  The “shall” in Section 3 makes this list of documents normative, so they are part of the requirements to be followed, met and used as audit criteria. As a helpful resource, there is a complete list of site references for all certification programs listed under the “Audit Resources” tab of the Applicants, Certified Fabricator, and Certified Erectors pages at www.aisc.org/certification.  

AISC Certification begins with the program requirements. Program requirements have been issued for all of the certification programs, and either includes the endorsements or reference endorsement program requirements.  In spring of 2018, AISC will announce a public review period for a new set of program requirements.  This new set will harmonize the five current programs into a set of general program requirements which apply to all certifications and supplemental requirements that are specific to a certification program.  The general set will include information from the application to receiving a certificate and all the steps in between. The intent is to have a more thorough and complete set of requirements so that each participant or applicant understands the process to be or become an AISC certificate holder.  In today’s vernacular, AISC Certification must be “transparent” to our applicants and participants, specifiers, engineers, architects, jurisdictions, and customers who comprise the structural steel industry that we serve.

Bulletin 2018-01 for Scheduling Site Audits

The first bulletin for 2018 describes the AISC Certification scheduling process for site audits and includes the 2018 and 2019 Audit Schedules. The bulletin is available here. 

The audit windows, defined in the bulletin and noted in the Audit Schedules, had their time-frames shifted. This shift allowed for more time between the site audit and certificate expiration (please note the certificate expiration month did not shift). Though beneficial for reasons listed in the bulletin, the shift resulted in frustration for some companies who experienced audit dates earlier than customary. For those companies who were negatively affected, we apologize. 

To eliminate the frustration, we are publishing the audit schedules, which note the month an audit is expected to occur depending on a certificate’s expiration date. Participants will now know of their audit month well in advance to help assist in planning activities.