University Programs

Educator Awards

Thanks for Helping Us Recognize Exceptional Steel Education Professionals

The nomination period for the 2021 Educator Awards is now closed and nominees are currently being reviewed. Stay tuned for the announcement of award winners in early 2021. See below for our list of previous recipients!

Geerhard Haaijer Award for Excellence in Education

The Geerhard Haaijer Award, AISC's most prestigious Educator Award, is given only to individuals who, through their teaching and research, have had a profound and lasting impact on the structural steel design and construction industries. It is named for one of AISC's most respected vice presidents for Technology and Research.

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award honors individuals who have made a difference in both the success of AISC and the structural steel industry. It provides special recognition to individuals who have provided outstanding service over a sustained period of time to AISC and the structural steel academic community.

Special Achievement Award

The Special Achievement Award provides special recognition to individuals who demonstrated notable singular or multiple achievements in structural steel education.  This award honors living individuals who have made a positive and substantial impact on the structural steel design and construction industry through one or more particular projects.

Early Career Faculty Awards

The Early Career Faculty Award provides recognition to tenure track faculty who demonstrate promise in the areas of structural steel research, teaching and other contributions to the structural steel industry.



2020 Educator Award Winners

Lifetime Achievement Award

W. Samuel Easterling, PE, PhD, Dean of Engineering, Iowa State University

W. Samuel Easterling currently serves as the James L. and Katherine S. Melsa Dean of Engineering at Iowa State University. His doctoral studies pioneered efforts to use steel deck-concrete slab systems to transfer lateral forces through floor systems in steel buildings. Easterling has received numerous accolades for his prolific body of work in the area of composite construction. He has given numerous seminars for AISC education programs and has served on several AISC committees. Easterling received AISC’s Special Achievement Award in 2012 and the T.R. Higgins Lectureship Award in 2002. 

Chia-Ming Uang, PhD, Professor, University of California, San Diego

Chia-Ming Uang is an internationally recognized research leader in structural steel with more than 30 years of outstanding work with an emphasis on seismic-resistant design. Uang completed his doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley in 1986 and then served on the faculty at Northeastern University for six years. In 1993, Uang joined the University of California at San Diego where he now holds the rank of professor in the Department of Structural Engineering. The findings of his research have made a large impact on design practice and on the AISC Seismic Provisions for Structural Steel Buildings (AISC 341). He has made significant and sustained contributions to AISC through his service on various committees. His work has also supported the prequalification of numerous moment connections in the AISC Prequalified Connections for Special and Intermediate Steel Moment Frames for Seismic Applications (AISC 358). Uang received AISC’s Special Achievement Award in 2007 and the T.R. Higgins Lectureship Award in 2015.

Special Achievement Awards

Michel Bruneau, PhD, PENG, F. CAE, F. ASCE, F. SEI, SUNY Distinguished Professor, University at Buffalo

Michel Bruneau is recognized for his groundbreaking work in developing and promoting SpeedCore, a concrete-filled composite plate shear wall system that is revolutionizing the speed at which steel-framed buildings are constructed. His research and lab tests on tall shear walls were extremely valuable to the implementation of the system. Bruneau received AISC’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019 and the T.R. Higgins Lectureship Award in 2012.

Amit. H. Varma, PhD, Karl H. Kettelhut, Professor of Civil Engineering, Purdue University

Amit Varma is recognized for his groundbreaking work in developing and promoting SpeedCore, a concrete-filled composite plate shear wall system that is revolutionizing the speed at which steel-framed buildings are constructed. His research and lab tests on tall shear walls significantly contributed to the successful implementation of the system. Varma received AISC’s Special Achievement Award in 2017 and Milek Fellowship Award in 2003.

Early Career Faculty Award

Emily Baker, AIA, Assistant Professor of Architecture, University of Arkansas

Emily Baker joined the University of Arkansas as an assistant professor in 2017. She previously served as an assistant professor at Tulane University and the American University of Sharjah. She spent five years practicing as a licensed architect and demonstrates a commitment to steel as a building material in her teaching and research. Baker provides her students with hands-on experience in steel design and fabrication. Her research and portfolio of work has explored digital fabrication and computation design and analysis to study and construct space frames using kirigami, a process of cutting and folding.

Negar Elhami-Khorasani, PhD, Assistant Professor, University at Buffalo

Negar Elhami-Khorasani has served as an assistant professor at the University at Buffalo since 2016. Her research is primarily focused on fire and elevated temperatures on steel structures. In addition to research and teaching, she is professionally active in journal manuscript reviews, committee work, and community work bringing engineering to K-8 students.

Julie Fogarty, PE, PhD, Assistant Professor, California State University, Sacramento

Julie Fogarty has served as an assistant professor at California State University, Sacramento since 2015. Her research regarding the behavior of deep, slender steel columns will potentially have a significant impact on the design practices in highly seismic regions. Research regarding local flange and web damage will also provide practicing engineers with the tools to quickly and appropriately assess the safety and stability of existing steel structures.


2019 Educator Award Winners

Lifetime Achievement Award

Michel Bruneau, PhD, Professor, University at Buffalo

Bruneau has made major contributions to advancing the seismic design of steel structures for more than 30 years. This includes major contributions in the areas of special plate shear walls and eccentrically braced frames. The results of his research have been widely applied in the design of steel buildings and bridges, and his work has resulted in major additions to AISC’s Seismic Provisions for Structural Steel Buildings (AISC 341). Additionally, Bruneau has been a contributor and member of AISC Task Committees since 2001, and has also made major contributions in the areas of blast resistance and multi-hazard design.


Early Career Faculty Award

Matthew Yarnold, PhD, PE, Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University

Yarnold focuses on research related to steel bridge design, performance and monitoring, including local buckling of trapezoidal rib orthotropic bridge decks, rapid testing of steel bridges, and hot rolled singly symmetric I-beams. In addition to his research, Yarnold focuses on teaching, where he strives to bridge the gap between classroom education and engineering practice. He provides his students with an opportunity to experience structural engineering projects first hand through construction site tours and steel mill tours. His real-world experiences help contribute to the knowledge-base of his lectures and allow him to provide a unique view of the industry as he explains steel class topics and implements models in class.

Matthew Hebdon, PhD, PE, Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech University

Hebdon has broad experience in the steel industry, with current and recent research in fatigue and fracture, redundancy of steel bridge systems, bridge monitoring and testing, steel corrosion and mitigation, historic steel fabrication methods, evaluation and rehabilitation of deteriorated steel structures, and large-scale testing of structures. He has a passion for steel from the material level to the structural level, and will continue to engage with stakeholders in the steel bridge, fabrication and building sectors to propel steel innovation and research.


2018 Educator Award Winners

Geerhard Haaijer Award for Excellence in Education

Bruce Ellingwood, PE, PhD, NAE, F.SEI, DIST M.ASCE, Professor Emeritus, Colorado State University

Dr. Ellingwood  is the recipient of the Geerhard Haaijer Award. Internationally recognized as an authority on structural load modeling, reliability and risk analysis of engineered facilities, Ellingwood is a prominent leader in the technical development and implementation of probability-based codified design standards for building structures. His research and professional activities involve the application of probability and statistics to structural engineering, particularly in structural reliability theory and probabilistic risk assessment. He directed the development of the general probability-based load criteria for limit states design that have appeared in successive editions of the ASCE/ANSI Standard on Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures since 1982, which are the basis for strength design in the U.S. His work has also been instrumental in the development of the load and resistance factor design methodology used in AISC specifications that forms the basis for modern steel design.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Don White, PhD, Professor Georgia Institute of Technology

Dr. White has generously served AISC throughout his career. He’s been a member of the AISC Committee on Specifications since 2008, and has served on AISC Specification Task Committees TC3 – Loads, Analysis and Stability, and TC4 - Member Design since 2002, as well as the AISC Educator Awards Committee. He has also presented many successful webinars on behalf of AISC, and was the long-time faculty advisor to the Georgia Tech student steel bridge team, regularly appearing at the National Student Steel Bridge Competition (NSSBC). His research covers a broad area of design and behavior of steel and composite steel/concrete structures as well as computational mechanics, methods of nonlinear analysis and applications to design.

Thomas Sabol, SE, PhD, Principal, Englekirk, and Adjunct Professor, UCLA

Dr. Sabol has provided exceptional service and contributions over many years to AISC, the structural steel industry and the structural engineering profession. His sustained contributions have made a major impact on advancing the practice in seismic-resistant design of structural steel buildings, as well as advancing AISC standards and the use of structural steel. He has been responsible for the structural design of numerous mid- and high-rise buildings, institutional and educational structures and a wide range of other projects. He is also an adjunct professor at UCLA, where he has taught classes in structural and earthquake engineering for many years. He is a leader in the field of structural earthquake engineering, with a strong focus on seismic-resistant design of structural steel buildings. He was an active participant in the SAC-FEMA steel moment frame project after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and served as a lead guideline writer for this project. He has also collaborated with a number of university faculty on research related to seismic performance of steel buildings. In addition, he has served on various AISC committees for more than 20 years and has contributed extensively to AISC continuing education programs.

Special Achievement Award

Keh-Chyuan Tsai, SE, PhD, Professor, National Taiwan University

Dr. Tsai is being recognized for his extensive work with U.S. researchers to conduct large-scale system level testing of structural steel seismic force resisting systems, leading to system-level verification of many of the AISC 341 provisions.

Early Career Faculty Award

William N. Collins, PE, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Kansas

Dr. Collins has been successful in the multifaceted roles of his position as assistant professor. His excellent teaching record, successful research portfolio and impactful professional service activities indicate that he will have a long and successful career as a professor and will continue to contribute to the structural steel industry through numerous avenues. All of the classes he has taught at KU are directly related to structural steel. These include undergraduate steel design, graduate steel building design and graduate fracture mechanics. In addition to teaching, he has created a variety of learning opportunities for students outside of the classroom. In the past three years he has taken more than 150 students to SteelDay events around Kansas and Missouri, which gives students a first-hand view of the structural steel industry and has even led to employment opportunities for KU graduates. In addition, he is working on a variety of projects with the potential to influence the structural steel industry. As principal investigator he is leading two major steel bridge related projects. The first is an NCHRP project examining the fracture toughness of heat-affected zones in welded steel bridges. The second is an exploration into the use of digital image correlation (DIC) to identify fatigue cracks as part of an automated inspection process. Collins is also contributing to this important area of research as a collaborator on a FHWA Pooled Fund project using elastomeric skin sensors to identify fatigue crack initiation on steel bridges without the need for human inspectors. He also serves as a member of two Transportation Research Board (TRB) committees, and is an active member of ASTM International committees related to fracture mechanics and impact testing of metals.


Ashley P. Thrall, PhD, Myron and Rosemary Noble Associate Professor of Structural Engineering, University of Notre Dame

Dr. Thrall is an innovative and dynamic researcher and teacher in the structural engineering group of the University of Notre Dame. She has a unique perspective that started early in her career studying historical structures and developing an understanding of their design. She went on to develop a deep mechanics-based analysis expertise which has blossomed into building the leading laboratory in the country focused solely on civil kinetic structures. The problems and methods she has tackled have been widely varied but always focus on out-of-the-box innovative design, incorporate the most advanced analysis, rapid prototyping and testing methods, and bring communities together whether in Europe or the U.S., integrating industry, consulting and academia. Her steel-focused work includes accelerated construction of steel bridges through adjustable connections and modular design, impacting both fabrication and erection costs and setting a firm theoretical framework to a very practical problem. Her digital image correlation methods applied to laser etched steel are revolutionary. She will be monitoring the steel girders of the new Tappan Zee Bridge using the digital image correlation methodologies. Her innovation and creativity are widely recognized and as a result her laboratory is very well funded through a diverse range of federal and state agencies, something that is extremely difficult to do in her area. Thrall has also been as innovative mentoring students in her laboratory and teaching classes as she has been in her research. She arms the students in her statics, steel and bridge classes with the ability to solve challenging and real world problems, as well as provides high school and graduate students exposure to the many and diverse aspects of her discipline through a wide range of opportunities, from field trips to lectures.