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Field Notes

Welcome to Modern Steel Construction's Field Notes podcast series, where we interview industry personalities with interesting stories to tell.

     

 More podcasts are available at AISC's Steel Profiles series of podcasts. 

The Long Run

Larry Fahnestock didn’t always know he’d become an engineering professor, but he took the path one stage at a time—much like he does when he’s participating in triathlons. This University of Illinois engineering professor takes a proactive approach to teaching, advising, and covering great distances!

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Wise Welder

Mary Jo Emrick has been involved with welding for decades, first as a professional welder and now as a welding instructor at Austin Community College. She’s also a certified welding inspector (CWI). In this month’s Field Notes column, she discusses her experience in the profession, her philosophy on teaching welding, recruiting the next generation into the trades, and what she loves most about Austin.

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Building Balance

Dave Eckmann has always enjoyed building things, from sandcastles as a child to high-rises that have redefined Chicago’s skyline in his 35 years as a structural engineer. Currently the managing principal of Magnusson Klemencic Associate’s (MKA) Chicago office, he has spent most of his life in and around Chicago but has an integrative—and worldly, thanks to a fellowship that took him all over Europe—outlook on the building design process. (March 2022)

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All-around Architectural Enthusiast

In this month’s edition of Field Notes, AISC structural steel specialist Alex Morales discusses his grandmother’s support and influence, his career working for architectural and general contracting firms, his role and philosophy as a structural steel specialist, how he ended up in Houston, and what he enjoys most about the city (besides the heat and humidity). (February 2022)

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By the Book

In this month’s Field Notes podcast, listen to AISC director of engineering Cindi Duncan discuss how she got into the construction world, how she’s been able to bring disparate parties together on various committees to keep AISC’s publications on schedule, her advice to the next generation of female engineers, her thoughts on green chile, her musical ambitions, and more. (January 2022)

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 Oil (and Steel) on Canvas

Listen to Gwyneth Leech this month discuss her process for painting under-construction Manhattan high-rises, how she became a New Yorker, her history as an artist, and her singing and gardening endeavors. (December 2021)

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Three Degrees of Engineering

In this month’s Field Notes podcast, listen to longtime AISC consultant (and former AISC director of technical assistance) Larry Muir discuss his unorthodox path to becoming a structural engineer and connections expert, as well as how the typical stock market advice of “buy low” led to his enduring guitar hobby. (November 2021)

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Alternate Realities

In this month’s Field Notes podcast, listen to University of Wisconsin professor Hannah Blum discuss her travels and studies in Australia, her experiences with remote teaching, her work with virtual and mixed reality, and her stability research. (October 2021)


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Engaging Effort

In this month’s Field Notes podcast, listen to University of Missouri Steel Bridge Team captain Corey Valleroy’s experience with increasing his team in both size and diversity and making the most of their experience in the 2021 AISC Student Steel Bridge Competition. (September 2021).

 

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Building Out

In this month’s Field Notes podcast, you can learn how Nick Colina took his family’s fabrication business from struggling to booming and also his role with BuildOut California, the world’s first LGBT industry association dedicated to the sustainable growth of LGBTQ-owned and certified businesses in the fields of architecture, engineering, construction services, real estate development, and related industries. (August 2021)

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Forging a Connection

In this month’s Field Notes interview podcast, Hunter Ruthrauff talks about how his passion for architecture spawned a passion for aesthetically significant bridges—and how that passion spawned a pet project of sorts that became his AISC Forge Prize-winning design, a 3D-printed steel pedestrian bridge that spans Florida Canyon in San Diego’s Balboa Park. (July 2021)

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A Stable Job

In the June 2021 Field Notes interview podcast, University of Massachusetts engineering professor—and clarinetist—Kara Peterman discusses how an art history class spurred her to explore the field of structural engineering, her thoughts on the present and future of stability research, her love of dim sum, and how she’s stuck with the clarinet for more than two decades.

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Steady Beat

Architect Anders Lasater first made the connection between a design drawing and a final product in his high school woodshop class. In this month’s Field Notes podcast interview, he talks about why he loves California, his experience as a judge for this year’s AISC IDEAS2 Awards competition, starting his own firm, and the connection between architecture and music, all in the May 2021 issue.

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A Series of Fortunate Events

Project manager Nyckey Heath credits her military service, her can-do attitude (inherited from her father), and her inquisitive nature to her success in the construction industry. In this month’s Field Notes podcast, she discusses how her impulse to join one U.S. military branch led to her joining another, how she narrowly avoided becoming a doctor, how working for a fabricator taught her how to be a more effective engineer, and how she acquired the best hard hat she’s ever worn and more in the April 2021 issue.

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Raising the Bar

Vicki O’Leary was born into an ironworking family and got into the profession herself based on a bet with her brother. And while she’s raised a lot of steel in her more than thirty years as an ironworker, more recently she has raised the bar for ironworkers everywhere as director of diversity for Ironworkers International. Listen in to hear about her first experience up on the iron, the Be That One Guy anti-bullying program, the evolution of paid maternity for ironworkers, and more in the March 2021 issue.

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Making a Mark

Mark Trimble’s introduction to building things was as his father’s right-hand man on household projects. Little did he know that it would prepare him for a career in construction. Now AISC’s vice president of membership and certification—following a 25-year career with a steel fabricator—Trimble talks about his start in the steel business, his love of music, and going back and forth between big city and small town living in the February 2021 issue.

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A Strong Cast

Carlos de Oliveira and Michael Gray, co-founders of AISC associate member Cast Connex, forged a partnership as students that evolved into a company that is now a global leader in steel castings for structural applications. They talk about how they met, how their student research became a steel construction phenomenon, their favorite Toronto buildings, and their company’s humble beginnings—complete with a road trip to NASCC. Listen below or read an excerpt of the interview in the January 2021 issue.

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Make It Here

Zekelman Industries CEO Barry Zekelman doesn't just want you to use American-made steel. He wants you to use American-made everything. And through a new advertising campaign, he is working to push for industries of all types to grow and maintain their manufacturing operations here in the U.S. You can also read a transcript of his interview in the December issue. 

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 Equality Expert

Yiselle Santos Rivera is a major force in creating a sense of belonging, both in her workplace and the buildings her firm designs. In addition to being a vice president and senior medical planner with HKS' Washington, Washington, D.C., office, she is also the company's global director of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (J.E.D.I.). Listen to her interview below or read a transcript of it in the November issue. 

 

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Industry ACE

Angela Cotie is a project executive with Gilbane Building Company and the chair of ACE Mentoring Houston, where she takes a leading role in introducing the next generation to the wide breadth of careers in the construction industry. When she first started in college, she had a pretty specific idea of what her role in the industry would be, but then she discovered that it could be even more than she expected. You can also read the interview in the October issue.

 

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 Perfect Pair

Rosannah Harding and Matthew Ostrow are the founders of HardingOstrow, a New York-based design practice. They are also the winners of this year’s AISC Forge Prize Award for their design Footbridge. They discuss their winning project, their architectural inspirations, life in a commute-less world, and more. You can also read their interview in the September 2020 issue.

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 Lifetime Advocate

Hollie Noveletsky is CEO of AISC member fabricator Novel Iron Works in Greenland, N.H., and is also an AISC board member. Hollie grew up around steel, visiting and working for her father’s fabrication business before embarking on a career in nursing, specializing in geropsychiatry. Hollie talks about making her mark in the family business—which she now runs—applying her healthcare background to the manufacturing world, and how both roles have helped her company weather the current pandemic. You can also read her interview in the August 2020 issue.

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 There and Back Again

Steve Knitter is president of AISC member fabricator Geiger and Peters in Indianapolis and AISC's board vice chair. Steve talks about how his career evolved from robotics to steel fabrication, why he prefers skiing to snowboarding, what it was like racing to the finish on a project at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and how he found his way back to Hoosier State (twice). You can also read his interview in the July 2020 issue.

 

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 Making Connections

Carol Drucker, SE, PE, PEng, is the cofounder of  Drucker Zajdel Structural Engineers in Chicago and an AISC Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Listen in to hear how she became a connection design guru, how she and her staff adapted to the COVII D-19 pandemic, and what she loves most about the Windy City. (June 2020)

 

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  Judge and Jury

John Parucki has been the head national judge of AISC’s Student Steel Bridge Competition (SSBC) for a quarter-century. He talks about the competition, how he became involved with it, what it means to him, how it’s changed over the years, and how he got into the steel business. (May 2020)

 

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 Running Free

Tabitha Stine grew up in a construction family, married another structural engineer, and now she's AISC’s vice president of market development. Between her career, her family, her volunteer leadership of a suburban baseball, softball, and tee-ball league and her running hobby, Stine is always on the move. (April 2020)

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 Longtime Lion

Lou Geschwindner, professor emeritus in architectural engineering at Penn State, is well known for his vast wealth of steel knowledge--as well as his trademark moustache. (March 2020)

Lou Geschwindner

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Beating the Drum

Structural engineer (and drummer) Bill Bast has designed projects for the base of Chicago's tallest building twice, including a recent major renovation. (February 2020)

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Click here for more podcasts from the AISC Podcast series, Steel Profiles, which brings you up close and personal with many of the steel industry's leading professionals.