AISC to Honor 14 Top Structural Steel Professionals at NASCC: The Steel Conference

March 28, 2016

(Chicago, IL) - Fourteen leaders from across the structural steel design, construction, and academic community will receive distinguished awards from the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) at the 2016 NASCC: The Steel Conference (April 13-15 in Orlando). Duane Miller has been selected to receive the Robert P. Stupp Award for Leadership Excellence, one of the Institute’s highest honors, and John Nolan will receive the prestigious Chairman’s Award for outstanding service as a member of the AISC Board of Directors. Gregory Deierlein, Geoffrey Kulak and James Stori will be honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards, and Special Achievement Awards will be presented to Glenn Bishop, Brad Davis, Larry Fahnestock, Vernon Mesler and Mark Saunders. In addition, AISC will honor the inaugural recipients of its new Early Career Faculty Award: Caroline Bennett, Matthew Eatherton, Jason McCormick and Christopher Raebel. The winners will be recognized during the conference awards presentation and opening keynote on Wednesday, April 13, beginning at 12:30 p.m.

The Robert P. Stupp Award for Leadership Excellence and the Chairman’s Award are rarely presented, which makes this year’s presentation of both at the same event extra special. The Stupp Award is given in special recognition to individuals who have provided unparalleled leadership in the steel construction industry, and the Chairman’s Award honors those who have provided significant, sustained and outstanding service as a member of the AISC Board of Directors and have contributed to the success of AISC and the structural steel industry.

Duane K. Miller, P.E., Sc.D, of The Lincoln Electric Company has been selected to receive the Robert P. Stupp Award. For more than 40 years, Miller has worked tirelessly to educate the world about structural steel welding, and he is recognized as the top authority on the design of welded connections. He lectures and writes regularly for AWS and AISC, and three times has been awarded the Silver Quill Award by AWS for the excellence of his published work. In addition to frequent articles in Modern Steel Construction, he is the author of AISC’s Design Guide 21: Welded Connections. In 2001 he received the T.R. Higgins Lectureship Award and in 2005 he received the AISC Lifetime Achievement Award. Currently, he serves as Chair of the AWS D1 Structural Welding Code Committee and formerly chaired the Seismic Welding subcommittee and the AASHTO-AWS Bridge Welding subcommittee and is a member of the AISC Specifications Committee.

John W. Nolan of Steel Dynamics, Inc. has been selected to receive the Chairman’s Award. In addition to his contributions to the AISC Board of Directors, Nolan has been instrumental in educating AISC about what other trade groups and steel companies are doing in relation to trade policy and in acting as a conduit for information and coordination between groups.

The Lifetime Achievement Award gives special recognition to individuals who have provided outstanding service over a sustained period of years to AISC and the structural steel design/construction/academic community. This year’s award recipients are:

Gregory G. Deierlein, Ph.D., professor at Stanford University. For more than a decade, Deierlein has served as director of the J.A. Blue Earthquake Engineering Center, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in the 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 frame systems. He has served on the AISC Specifications Committee, as well as committees on Design for Fire, Stability and the Seismic Provisions. He has also served as a reviewer for AISC’s Engineering Journal for almost 20 years. In 2003 he received the AISC Special Achievement Award for his work on advanced frame analysis and design, and in 2013 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

Geoffrey L. Kulak, P.E., Ph.D., professor emeritus at the University of Alberta. Kulak is a recognized authority on the behavior of welded and bolted connections, fatigue of fabricated steel members and member stability. He was professor of civil engineering for nearly 30 years at the University of Alberta, where he now serves as professor emeritus. He has also been a longtime leader in the steel industry through active involvement in the Research Council on Structural Connections (RCSC) and AISC activities. For more than two decades he served as an officer of RCSC in several different positions, and he has written and presented numerous RCSC and AISC seminars on bolting that have been well received as both practical and understandable. He has also published extensively on the subject and is the author of AISC Design Guide 17: High Strength Bolts - A Primer for Structural Engineers.

James A. Stori, P.E., of STS Steel. In addition to his many years of service on the AISC Board of Directors (including a stint as chair), he has been crucial to the advancement of several programs. Under his leadership, NASCC: The Steel Conference has more than doubled in size and garnered a reputation for the quality of its engineering and fabricator programs. He also served as chair of the AISC Committee on Standard Practice during the development of the 2010 Code.

The Special Achievement Award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated notable achievements in structural steel design, construction, research or education. It honors those who have made a positive and substantial impact on the structural steel design and construction industry. This year’s award recipients are:

Glenn E. Bishop, P.E., SECB, FACEC, of LBYD, Inc., for his contributions as the leader of ACEC’s CASE Guidelines Committee and the coordination of their work with the AISC Committee on the Code of Standard Practice. Bishop led the drafting of a CASE proposal that was submitted to the AISC Code Committee to add provisions to cover delegated connection design work. Further, he worked tirelessly with the Code Committee to refine that proposal to ensure it was acceptable to all concerned parties. The end product is now embodied in the AISC Code of Standard Practice as Section 3.1.2.

Brad Davis, S.E., Ph.D., assistant professor at the 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.

Larry A. Fahnestock, P.E., Ph.D., associate professor at the 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.

Vernon J. Mesler, adjunct faculty at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Mich., for imparting 40 years of welding, fabrication, hot riveting and corrosion repair skills on thousands of students, and for encouraging those students to pursue careers in the steel industry. He is also recognized for his establishment of a historic bridge park in Calhoun County, Mich., which contains five steel and wrought iron bridges that he and his students restored using the same fabrication techniques as when they were originally built. The park continues to serve as an educational site for students and engineers to understand past bridge design construction techniques.

Mark C. Saunders, S.E., past president and senior consultant at Rutherford & Chekene Engineers, San Francisco, for his leadership and contributions to the design of seismic steel moment frames. He is one of four original members of the AISC Seismic Design Task Committee who are still active on the committee; he served as vice chair from 1999 to 2015. He is also a key member of the FEMA/SAC Guidelines Writing Team and primarily responsible for FEMA 350, much of which went into AISC 341 and 358. He served as chair of BSSC TS6 on Steel Structures for many years, working closely with TC9 to ensure coordination between AISC and the NEHRP Provisions.

The Early Career Faculty Award provides recognition to faculty who demonstrate promise in the areas of structural steel research, teaching and/or other contributions to the structural steel industry. The inaugural recipients of the award are:

Caroline R. Bennett, P.E., Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Kansas, who has elevated scholarship in the area of structural steel through her teaching, research and service. Over the past few years, Bennett has transformed KU’s undergraduate steel design course to be firmly grounded in active learning. In addition, she has served as a leader in promoting best teaching practices at the university. She has been 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 School of Engineering’s Course Transformation Initiative. She 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 also served as Principal Investigator (PI) on numerous research projects that have direct positive effects on the structural steel design community, including retrofitting existing steel bridges for fatigue, improving the stability performance of steel structures and mitigating cracking in welded steel structures from galvanizing. She has been involved with the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) committees for more than 10 years, and has recently become increasingly involved with the AASHTO T-14 committee on steel bridges, the AASHTO/NSBA Steel Bridge Collaboration, and the AISI Bridge Task Force. In addition, she has served as the faculty advisor for the KU Student Steel Bridge Team since 2006 and has grown the team from fewer than 10 students to an average of 30-40 students each year.

Matthew R. Eatherton, S.E., P.E., Ph.D., assistant professor at Virginia Tech. Eatherton is a respected researcher, writer and presenter, and is being recognized for his excellent work in experimental and analytical research. His papers combine strong fundamental research with outcomes of practical significance and have been published in top journals including the ASCE Journal of Structural Engineering, the Journal of Constructional Steel ResearchEarthquake Spectra, and Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics. He has made significant research contributions in the area of seismic-resistant steel structures. His work on controlled rocking of self-centering braced frames is moving the profession forward by introducing an innovative new structural system that not only provides life safety during 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 performance is also an innovative idea with 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. In addition, he is active on AISC’s Seismic Design Manual committee and a member of the Building Seismic Safety Council Provisions Update Committee. Through his student evaluations, he has also proven to be an effective and well-respected teacher of structural steel design. Beyond formal classroom instruction, he regularly leads K-12 outreach efforts in the Blacksburgh, Va., community and for summer camps offered at Virginia Tech through the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity.

Jason P. McCormick, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Michigan. McCormick is a highly regarded structural steel researcher, educator and educational innovator. His research on the seismic behavior of metal structural systems has strongly impacted the steel design and analysis field. While at UofM he has conducted large-scale seismic testing of steel connections to hollow structural members. His extensive testing program has investigated new connection details using HSS beam and column members for seismic moment frames to increase the versatility of steel moment frames. He also performs ongoing studies on the use of non-traditional materials to enhance the seismic performance of steel frame systems, working with his students to inhibit or significantly delay local buckling, with the objective of improving the energy dissipation capacity of steel members. He’s received numerous university teaching awards and is an esteemed educational innovator. Currently, he’s working with colleagues on using virtual reality to explain complex concepts in the field of structural engineering. Working in a 3D lab, he immerses steel design students in a virtual environment to enable them to explore buckling concepts in an interactive way. In addition, he serves as a mentor for the university’s steel bridge team and is involved in activities aimed at improving diversity within engineering education. He’s also active on several influential committees within AISC and ASCE.

Christopher H. Raebel, P.E., Ph.D., associate professor at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Raebel is a skilled researcher, writer and esteemed teacher. His research interests involve experimental evaluation of structural steel connections, particularly related to their performance under unexpected loading scenarios, as well as 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. He 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. From his several years of experience as a consulting engineer, he is also able to deftly integrate both the theory and practice of engineering in the classroom. The high marks he receives on his student evaluations is a testimony to his skills as an instructor. In addition, he’s an active and respected member of two AISC technical committees: Member Design, and Evaluation and Repair. He is also a proven leader in the MSOE Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering, serving as the program director for the Architectural Engineering Program.

Headshots are available upon request by contacting AISC’s Tasha Weiss at or 312.670.5439. For the full conference program or to register, go to To learn more about AISC’s awards programs, please visit


For more information contact:

Tasha O'Berski
Communications Department

American Institute of Steel Construction

The American Institute of Steel Construction, headquartered in Chicago, is a non-partisan, not-for-profit technical institute and trade association established in 1921 to serve the structural steel design community and construction industry. AISC’s mission is to make structural steel the material of choice by being the leader in structural steel-related technical and market-building activities, including: specification and code development, research, education, technical assistance, quality certification, standardization, and market development. AISC has a long tradition of service to the steel construction industry of providing timely and reliable information. 

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