September 1, 2010
CFSEI Webinars Become Successful Technology Transfer Tool

Beginning at the end of last year, the leadership of the Cold-Formed Steel Engineers Institute (CFSEI) decided to offer technology transfer opportunities through web-based seminars where participants learn through online interactive elements.  These webinars have not only allowed the Institute to quickly aggregate, exchange and share the latest information on cold-formed steel (CFS) design methods, but have also enabled the Institute to recruit the best professionals to teach selected topics in a convenient and cost-effective way.   “As the technical council of SFA, one of CFSEI’s objectives is to serve as a dissemination tool for the cold-formed steel industry to get the latest CFS design information directly into the hands of engineers and others to facilitate efficient design methods,” said Bill Babich, P.E., president of CFSEI. “The webinars are proving to be a valuable tool in accelerating our efforts to reach industry members. They allow us to use national experts on critical subjects in one of the most efficient delivery systems available today.”

The CFSEI audience comprises structural engineers, academicians, code enforcement staff, consultants, design professionals, and forensic engineers, among others.  They participate in the webinars to learn how CFS is used in structural and load bearing applications and to earn professional development hours in a cost-effective way. All presentations are moderated by a registered Professional Engineer who is responsible for collecting questions from participants and providing structure to the question/answer session, conducted via a chat window. Currently,  CFSEI has designed its webinars to permit maximum participation—each registration is equivalent to one computer screen, and each screen can have unlimited participants. A log of all participants is submitted to CFSEI at the end of the webinar. 

To enable proper preparation and attentiveness, course materials such as technical notes or a list of documents to be used in the course are provided to participants several days before the webinar is conducted. To date, more than 300 participants have benefitted from three webinars that have been offered. CFSEI has scheduled one more webinar in November, with a goal to reach more than 500 participants by the end of the year.

The completed webinars are as follows: 

  • Cold-Formed Steel Design 2007 - Major Changes to the AISI S100 Design Standard, included in the 2009 International Building Code: Presented by Dr. Roger A. LaBoube, a distinguished teaching professor of civil engineering and director of the Wei-Wen Yu Center for Cold-Formed Steel Structures at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, this webinar attracted more than 70 participants. The webinar provided an overview of cold-formed steel design concepts and addressed the similarities of CFS design to American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) structural design.  The webinar also emphasized updates on the North American Specification for the Design of Cold-Formed Steel Structural Members, adopted by the 2009 International Building Code (IBC).  The webinar also covered distortional buckling failure mode, new to the 2007 Specification.  Participants earned 1.5 Professional Development Hours (PDHs).
  • Beginners Guide to the Direct Strength Method for Cold-Formed Steel Design: This webinar was presented by Ben Schafer, Ph.D., associate professor and chairman of the Department of Civil Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.  Dr. Schafer introduced designers to the Direct Strength Method (DSM), an entirely new design method for cold-formed steel that requires no effective width calculations and eliminates tedious iterations to determine section properties. This webinar demonstrated step-by-step DSM design examples, and participants learned how to apply these principles to steel framing and metal building systems. They also learned how to apply finite strip results to DSM design.  Other subjects covered included the use of CUFSM (free open-source software) for finding elastic buckling loads and the demonstration of how organizations can use DSM to optimize shapes for specific loading applications before manufacturing tooling. Participants earned 1.5 PDHs.
  • Shear Wall Design Guide:  This webinar was presented by Jeff Ellis, P.E., S.E., who is the primary author of CFSEI’s Cold-Formed Steel Framed Wood Panel or Steel Sheathed Wall Assemblies and a code report and branch engineering manager for Simpson Strong-Tie Co. Inc. With more than 150 participants, this webinar addressed wind, seismic loads, and load paths, and illustrated how those loads may be transferred from the resisting elements to the supporting elements.  The webinar also covered various lateral force- resisting systems typically used in cold-formed steel construction. Mr. Ellis used examples taken from the CFSEI’s Shear Wall Design Guide. He also covered CFS lateral system research and current code requirements for the CFS lateral systems. Participants earned 2.0 PDHs. 

To build on the webinars, all participants are provided with an evaluation form at the end of the session and asked to evaluate the presenter, moderator, webinar content and materials.

For information on upcoming webinars or to suggest future topics, please visit or send an email to

Editor, Framework Online

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Brought to you by the Steel Framing Alliance (SFA) on the first Wednesday of each month, February through December. Framework Online arms you with important news and commentary on the cold-formed steel (CFS) framing and construction industries.