A Beginner's Guide to the Steel Construction Manual, 14th ed

Chapter 1 - Introduction

2006, 2007, 2008, 2011 T. Bartlett Quimby



An Overview of the AISC Steel Construction Manual

Computational Considerations

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Section 1.1


Last Revised: 12/08/2014

Structural steel is one of the basic materials used by structural engineers. Steel, as a structural material has exceptional strength, stiffness, and ductility properties. As a result of these properties, steel is readily produced in a extensive variety of structural shapes to satisfy a wide range of application needs. The wide spread use of structural steel makes it necessary for structural engineers to be well versed in its properties and uses.

The structural steel industry in the United States is represented principally by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC). AISC works tirelessly to advance the science and art associated with producing, designing, fabricating, and erecting structural steel. One of their many available resources is the AISC Steel Construction Manual (SCM). This text focuses on training the engineering student to apply the basic design specifications contained in the SCM. In addition, the reader will become familiar with many of the design aids contained in the SCM.

In order for a student to progress through the material presented in this text, it is essential that they are well versed in engineering statics, mechanics, properties of materials, and structural analysis. Some of the required concepts that need to be mastered prior to undertaking this course are:

  • Statics
    • The ability to compute reactions on basic structures under given loading.
    • The ability to determine stability and determinacy
    • The ability to determine internal forces in statically determinate structures.
      • develop shear and moment diagrams
    • The ability to solve truss problems (both 2D and 3D) by using
      • method of joints
      • method of sections
    • The ability to solve "machine" problems
    • The ability to compute of section properties including
      • cross sectional area
      • Moments of Inertia for section of homogenous materials
      • Moments of Inertia for composite sections
  • Mechanics
    • An understanding of stress and strain concepts
    • The ability to compute stress including
      • axial stress
      • bending stress
      • shear stress (due to both bending and torsion)
      • principle stress
      • stress on arbitrary planes
    • The ability to compute the buckling capacity of columns
    • The ability to compute deflection in beams
    • The ability to compute reactions and internal forces for statically indeterminate structures
  • Properties of Materials
    • The ability to read stress-strain diagrams to obtain critical material properties including:
      • Yield stress
      • Ultimate stress
      • Modulus of Elasticity
      • Ductility
    • An understanding of the statistical variation of material properties.
  • Structural Analysis
    • An understanding of the nature of loads on structures
    • The ability to compute and use influence diagrams.
    • The ability to solve truss problems (forces and deflections)
    • The ability to solve frame problems (forces and deflections)
    • The ability to use at structural analysis software
  • Other Needed Skills
    • The ability to use a word processor
    • The ability to use a spreadsheet program to develop spreadsheet solutions to the problems presented in this text.
    • The ability to use a CAD program to generate drawings and sketches for inclusion in your computations.

After thoroughly studying this text, readers will be:

  1. able to combine loads to determine design loadings on structures
  2. familiar with the AISC Steel Construction Manual
  3. able to design steel tension members
  4. able to design steel beams
  5. able to design composite steel/concrete beams
  6. able to design steel columns
  7. able to design beam-columns
  8. able to design basic bolted connections
  9. able to design basic welded connections

At the successful completion of this text, the reader will be prepared for study addressing more advanced topics such as structural system design, the latest in connection design, and other building code requirements related to the design of steel structures.


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