2024 AISC Milek Fellowship Awarded to Mohannad Z. Naser

Image credit: Clemson University

AISC has awarded the 2024 Milek Fellowship to a researcher working toward bringing automation to the steel design process.

Mohannad Zeyad (M.Z.) Naser, PE, PhD, of Clemson University has earned the fellowship, which is given out annually by the AISC Committee on Research, for his research proposal “SteelGPT: Automating Structural Design of Steel Structures.” Naser aims to use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to create a virtual assistant named SteelGPT that will help enhance the steel design process.

Naser is not creating SteelGPT to replace the design process. Rather, he hopes it will aid designers and fabricators by flagging potential improper designs or assumptions and offering suggestions for how to improve design. It’s intended to be a resource to help design engineers develop an optimized and safe design while speeding up the overall process. SteelGPT will be trained on and incorporate multiple AISC publications as data sources, including the Specification for Structural Steel Buildings (ANSI/AISC 360), Seismic Provisions for Structural Steel Buildings (ANSI/AISC 341), and the Steel Construction Manual, as well as answers provided by the Steel Solutions Center.

Naser plans to develop SteelGPT by repurposing popular AI assistant ChatGPT’s open-source Large Language Model (LLM) to structural steel design. His research team will explore and tune ChatGPT’s intricate layers and the attention mechanisms that allow it to generate text. The research will encompass ChatGPT’s knowledge breadth and depth, focusing on the parameters and layers that provide ChatGPT with its high-end comprehension capabilities.

The research team plans to use well-known ML techniques, such as tokenization and embedding, to convert raw data into a machine-compatible format. Much of the research effort will focus on filtering out redundancies or outdated information. SteelGPT will be a live program that will accept future editions of AISC technical documents and other relevant industry standards.

Naser is a professional engineer and assistant professor at the Clemson University School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences. He’s also a faculty member of the AI Research Institute for Science and Engineering (AIRISE), the chair of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Advances in Information Technology committee, and a voting member of several national and international engineering institutes. He has authored more than 140 peer-reviewed publications and also made the Stanford University-Elsevier list of the world’s top 2% most cited scientists each of the last two years.

The Milek Fellowship is a four-year, $75,000-per-year award presented annually to a promising non-tenured university faculty member. It’s named for former AISC Vice President of Engineering and Research William A. Milek, Jr. The 2023 winner was Georgia Tech professor Ryan Sherman, whose research project is titled, “Additive Manufacturing for Structural Steel Applications.”