AISI Enters Into Research Agreement With Johns Hopkins University to Advance Cold-Formed Steel Building Design

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 27, 2011 –The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) has entered into an agreement with researchers at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) to develop the next iteration in the Direct Strength Method (DSM) for cold-formed steel (CFS) members, an important step for cold-formed steel building design. In its current form, the Direct Strength Method only applies to beams and columns, but is not applicable to beam-columns. The Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA) is providing co-funding for the project.

The research will be conducted under the direction of Professor Benjamin Schafer, Ph.D., P.E., chairman of the Department of Civil Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University and a nationally recognized innovator in cold-formed steel design. The research will be conducted from April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012.

“This research project is part of a long-term industry ‘road map’ to develop the Direct Strength Method,” Jay Larson, P.E., F. ASCE, managing director of AISI’s Construction Technical Program, said. “Its end result will be the development of a method for handling beam-columns and a finite element verification of the method. It will allow more comprehensive provisions to be included in AISI’s S100 Appendix I, expanding the use of the Direct Strength Method and making it easier for building designers to choose steel for their projects.” Larson said that the Direct Strength Method was first adopted as Appendix I in the 2004 Supplement to the AISI North American Specification for the Design of Cold-Formed Steel Structural Members (AISI S100).

The research results will have long-lasting, positive impacts as beam-column design is brought up to modern standards. The industry will be able to optimize sections for the actual loading that they are expected to encounter, resulting in lighter, more efficient sections that can be tailored for their expected uses. Engineers will gain a better understanding of the CFS members’ relevant behavior, more transparent use of fundamental mechanics, and improved reliability. All of these factors translate to allowing cold-formed steel to be designed, specified and built in a greater number of applications with greater confidence by engineers and building owners.

The Direct Strength Method was developed by AISI’s Committee on Specifications, and is more robust and flexible than the traditional Effective Width Method. An AISI Design Guide on the Direct Strength Method was published in 2006. The Direct Strength Method is now integrated into several commercially available software programs.

AISI’s codes and standards work is conducted under the Construction Market Council of the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), a business unit of AISI, which oversees the industry’s investment in advancing the competitive use of steel by meeting the demands of the marketplace. For more information on SMDI’s Construction Market program, visit

AISI serves as the voice of the North American steel industry in the public policy arena and advances the case for steel in the marketplace as the preferred material of choice. AISI also plays a lead role in the development and application of new steels and steelmaking technology. AISI is comprised of 25 member companies, including integrated and electric furnace steelmakers, and 118 associate and affiliate members who are suppliers to or customers of the steel industry. AISI's member companies represent approximately 80 percent of both U.S. and North American steel capacity. For more news about steel and its applications, view AISI’s website at

Debbie Bennett
Manager, SMDI and Construction Communications
Steel Market Development Institute
Tel: 202.452.7179