University Programs

Educator Awards

AISC Educator Awards honor individuals who have contributed to the success of the fabricated structural steel industry through their research, teaching or a lifetime of outstanding service.

Geerhard Haaijer Award for Excellence in Education

The Geerhard Haaijer Award is named for one of AISC’s most respected Vice Presidents for Technology and Research. It is given only to individuals who, through their teaching and research, have had a profound and lasting impact on the structural steel construction industry.

Lifetime Achievement Award

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

The 2017 Educator Awards will be presented on March 22 at the 2017 NASCC: The Steel Conference in San Antonio, TX.


2016 Educator Award Winners

Lifetime Achievement Awards

Gregory G. Deierlein, Ph.D., Professor, Stanford University

Dr. Deierlein is the John A. Blume Professor at Stanford University where he has served as the Director of the J.A. Blume Earthquake Engineering Center since 2003. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in design of steel structures, analysis and earthquake engineering.

His expertise includes fracture and stability of steel structures and composite steel/concrete structures. He has led major collaborative teams, involving researchers from the U.S., Japan and Taiwan, to develop and test self-centering braced frame systems and composite steel/concrete frames systems.

Dr. Deierlein has served on the AISC Committee on Specifications since 2000, on TC8 (Design for Fire) and TC10 (Stability) since 2004, on TC9 (Seismic Provisions) since 1998, and as an Engineering Journal reviewer since 1998.

Dr. Deierlein received the AISC Special Achievement Award in 2003 for his work on advanced frame analysis and design. In 2013 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

Geoffrey L. Kulak, Ph.D., P.Eng., Professor Emeritus, University of Alberta

Dr. Geoffrey Kulak spent most of his career as a university teacher, and was Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Alberta from 1970 to 1996 where he now is Professor Emeritus. He is a recognized authority on the behavior of welded and bolted connections, fatigue of fabricated steel members, and member stability.

Dr. Kulak has been a steel industry leader through active involvement in RCSC and AISC activities. He served as an officer of RCSC in several different positions over more than two decades of involvement. And, he has written and presented RCSC and AISC seminars on bolting that have been well received as both practical and understandable.

Dr. Kulak has published extensively. Among his publications, he has created significant knowledge through his work to summarize bolting research and related work for RCSC in the Guide to Design Criteria for Bolted and Riveted Joints. He also has made bolted joint design easier and more straightforward through AISC Design Guide 17: High Strength Bolts-A Primer for Structural Engineers, which he authored.

Dr. Kulak received the AISC Special Achievement Award in 2000.

Special Achievement Awards

Larry Fahnestock, Ph.D., P.E., Assoc. Professor, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana

For his work on the reserve capacity of low-ductility steel braced frames in areas of moderate seismicity, in which he quantifies the effects of reserve capacity in non-ductile frames which may preclude the need for strict seismic retrofit requirements in moderate seismic regions.

Brad Davis, Ph.D., S.E., Asst. Professor, University of Kentucky, Lexington

For his work on developing new tolerance criteria for steel framed floors supporting sensitive equipment, which will result in more economical floor framing.

Vern Mesler, Adjunct Faculty, Lansing Community College

For 30 years of teaching skills associated with welding, fabrication, corrosion repair and hot riveting to thousands of students at Lansing Community College, and for encouraging those students to pursue careers in the steel industry. And for his establishment of the historic bridge park in Calhoun County, Michigan which contains six steel bridges, that Mr. Mesler and his students restored to the same functional condition as they were originally built, and which continues to serve as an educational site for students and engineers to understand past bridge design and construction techniques.

Early Career Faculty Awards

Caroline Bennett, Ph.D., P.E., Assoc. Prof., University of Kansas

Dr. Caroline Bennett has elevated scholarship in the area of structural steel at the University of Kansas, through her teaching, research, and service.

Dr. Bennett is an excellent teacher. Her evaluations are consistently excellent, and student comments indicate that her organization, clarity, and emphasis on a cumulative, semester-long design project have made her highly-effective in the classroom. Dr. Bennett has transformed the undergraduate steel design course at KU over the past few years to be a course firmly grounded in active learning.

In addition to her teaching of courses related to structural steel, Dr. Bennett is a leader at KU in promoting best teaching practices. She has served as a Faculty Fellow with KU’s Center for Teaching Excellence (KU CTE) since 2012, and was appointed by the KU Dean of Engineering in 2014 to lead the KU School of Engineering’s Course Transformation Initiative.

Dr. Bennett has formed a sustained and focused structural steel research program at KU, and is already well on her way to becoming a national leader in the areas of steel bridges and fatigue and fracture. She has served as Principal Investigator (PI) on numerous research projects that have or will have direct positive effects on the structural steel design community including projects related to retrofitting existing steel bridges for fatigue, improving the stability performance of steel structures and mitigating cracking in welded steel structures due to galvanizing.

Dr. Bennett has been involved with Transportation Research Board (TRB) and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) committees for more than 10 years, and has become increasingly involved with the AASHTO T-14 committee on steel bridges, the AASHTO/NSBA Steel Bridge Collaboration, and the AISI Bridge Task Force over the past three years. In addition, she has served as the faculty advisor for the KU Student Steel Bridge Team since 2006. During that time, the KU Team has grown from fewer than 10 students to 30 to 40 students each semester.

Matthew R. Eatherton, Ph.D., P.E., S.E., Asst. Prof., Virginia Tech

Dr. Matthew Eatherton is a careful researcher, a superb writer and confident presenter. Overall, Dr. Eatherton does excellent work both in experimental and analytical research. His papers are very well written to a high scholarly standard, and combine strong fundamental research with outcomes of practical significance. Dr. Eatherton’s papers are published in top journals, including the ASCE Journal of Structural Engineering, the Journal of Constructional Steel Research, Earthquake Spectra, and Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics.

Dr. Eatherton has made significant research contributions in the area of seismic-resistant steel
structures. His work on controlled rocking of self-centering braced frames has been outstanding, and is moving the profession forward by introducing a very innovative new structural system that not only provides for life-safety in earthquakes, but also minimizes structural damage and building down time after an earthquake. His work on cutting patterns in steel plate shear walls to improve their seismic performance is an innovative idea that has important practical applications, and his work on the effect of powder actuated fasteners in the protected zones of steel special moment resisting frames has already made a practical impact.

Dr. Eatherton is quite active in professional committee activities at the national level. Of
particular note is his work on the AISC Seismic Design Manual committee. Dr. Eatherton’s membership on the Building Seismic Safety Council Provisions Update Committee is also a significant accomplishment, and further evidence of national recognition.

Through his student evaluations, Dr. Eatherton has been proven to be an effective and well-respected teacher of structural steel design. Beyond the formal classroom instruction, Dr. Eatherton regularly leads K-12 outreach efforts in the Blacksburg community and for summer camps offered at Virginia Tech through the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity.

Jason P. McCormick, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof., University of Michigan

Dr. Jason McCormick is an exceptional researcher, educator and educational innovator in the structural steel area. His research has strongly impacted the steel design and analysis field. His leadership on the research and professional service fronts are rare for someone so young and are clear indicators of the level influence he will wield in the future. His dedication to education and the innovation he has shown are unique.

Dr. McCormick’s research focuses on the seismic behavior of metal structural systems. While at the University of Michigan he has conducted large scale seismic testing of steel connections to hollow structural members. His extensive testing program investigated new connection details using HSS beam and column members for seismic moment frames to increase the versatility of steel moment frames. His ongoing studies on the use of non-traditional materials to enhance the seismic performance of steel frame systems are novel. In this work, he and his students are working to inhibit or significantly delay local buckling, with the objective of improving the energy dissipation capacity of steel members.

Dr. McCormick is a highly talented instructor. His off-the-chart teaching scores show that, but the strongest evidence comes from interactions with undergrad and grad students who took his classes.
The comments showed that Dr. McCormick not only explains concepts well, but also cares deeply about his students and their understanding of the subject matter. Year after year he consistently receives university teaching awards.

Dr. McCormick also is an educational innovator. He is working with colleagues at the UM on using virtual reality to explain complex concepts in the field of structural engineering. Specifically, he seeks to show students, in a compelling manner, what local buckling in steel structures looks like and how it interacts with global buckling. His effort has shown that it is much easier to explain terms like flexural buckling and torsional buckling by showing 3-D views that can be explored in virtual reality space. Working in the CAVE in the UM-3D lab, Jason takes students enrolled in his steel design class and immerses them in a virtual environment to enable them to explore buckling concepts in an interactive way.

Dr. McCormick also has excelled on the outreach and service fronts. Locally, he is involved in numerous activities within CEE, including mentoring the Steel Bridge Team, and involvement in
activities aimed at improving diversity within CEE and CoE. His outreach activities are admirable, especially his effort to go to elementary schools to talk about bridges. On the national service front, Dr. McCormick is active on several influential committees within AISC and ASCE.

Christopher H. Raebel, Ph.D., P.E., Assoc. Prof., Milwaukee School of Engineering

At the Milwaukee School of Engineering the focus for professors is to teach and not to perform research. Dr. Raebel has found a way to do both. He is a skilled researcher, an excellent writer and a highly regarded teacher.

Dr. Raebel's research interests involve experimental evaluation of structural steel connections, particularly related to their performance under unexpected loading scenarios, robustness in structural steel framed buildings, performance of steel-framed floor systems subjected to occupant-induced vibrations, and harvesting energy from vibrations caused by occupant-induced vibrations on steel-framed floors. Dr. Raebel has developed a collaboration with Marquette University which has allowed his graduate students to conduct enhanced investigations, and has led to many new research opportunities for both universities.

Because of his several years of experience as a consulting engineer, Dr. Raebel is able to deftly integrate both the theory and the practice of engineering in the classroom. The high marks he receives on his student evaluations is a testimony to his skills as an instructor. Without exception, Dr. Raebel’s students remark on how challenging and engaging his classroom presentations are, and are always eager to take subsequent classes with him when they can.

Dr. Raebel is an active and respected member on two AISC technical committees, Member Design and Evaluation and Repair. He also is a proven leader in MSOE Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering, serving as the Program Director for the Architectural Engineering Program.