Winners Named in Cold-Formed Steel Design Student Competition

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 9, 2011 –The winners of the Student Competition on Cold-Formed Steel Design at the University of North Texas (UNT) have been announced. The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) was a co-sponsor of the event along with the National Science Foundation. The competition was launched by UNT Professor Cheng Yu in early April, with entries due at the end of May.

UNT received 78 entries from nine different universities in the United States, Canada, China, Turkey, and Australia. The winners were:

• First Place – Jiazhen Leng, graduate student, Johns Hopkins University, Civil Engineering Major
• Second Place – David Cross, graduate student, Virginia Tech, Aerospace Engineering Major
• Third Place – L. Michael Palles IV, undergraduate student, Virginia Tech, Aerospace Engineering Major

“These students were challenged to take on a cold-formed steel design problem and solve it using an open source software,” Jay Larson, P.E., F. ASCE, managing director of AISI’s Construction Technical Program, said. “The judges were impressed with the number of entries received and the international appeal of the competition. We congratulate the three finalists and appreciate the hard work and creativity that were evident in each of the entries submitted.” Larson said that the competition will be held annually.

The winners will receive award plaques, with formal recognition provided by Dr. Cheng Yu at the 21st International Specialty Conference on Cold-Formed Steel Structures being held in October 2012. The top 10 students in the competition will receive one-year student memberships in the Cold-Formed Steel Engineers Institute (CFSEI). Winning designs and photos are being posted to:

The challenge for the competition was to design an optimal cold-formed steel cross-section shape. The optimal shape would yield an as-high-as-possible critical elastic buckling load for half-wave lengths equal to or less than 12 inches when uniform compression stresses were applied. The elastic buckling analysis was determined with open source software, CUFSM.

The panel of judges was made up of individuals who are nationally recognized in the area of cold-formed steel design:

• Cheng Yu, Ph.D., assistant professor and coordinator of the Construction Engineering Technology Program, University of North Texas
• Cristopher Moen, Ph.D., P.E, assistant professor, Virginia Tech
• Tim Bell, branch engineer, Simpson Strong-Tie
• Rick Haws, P.E., technical services manager, NUCONSTEEL, A Nucor Company
• Ken Stout, Automated Framing Systems Customer Service, Training, and Support Supervisor, NUCONSTEEL, a Nucor Company

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 Web site at

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