CHICAGO — More than 8,000 people attended about 200 free events across the U.S. on September 24 for the second annual national SteelDay. The structural steel industry’s largest networking and educational event for the design and construction community is hosted by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), its members, and other affiliated organizations. Building on the success of last year’s inaugural event, this year’s SteelDay nearly doubled its number of in-person attendees (not including live webinar attendance) and added dozens of event locations.

Architects, engineers, contractors, university faculty and students, government officials, and the general public visited steel mills, fabricators, service centers, galvanizers, and other steel facilities to network and witness advanced technologies in action. "It was a great opportunity for designers and others to see first-hand how the structural steel industry is building high-performance and sustainable projects," said Roger E. Ferch, P.E., AISC’s president.

Steel facilities throughout the country opened their doors for tours, open houses, demonstrations, presentations and other celebratory activities. A number of events hosts partnered together to offer tours of multiple facilities that showcased various aspects of the steel supply chain and types of careers available in engineering and construction.

"This event gives those specifying a better feel for the product and more respect for the process," said Jane Powell with Walter P Moore. She attended SteelDay’s North Texas Integrated Tour that took attendees through a steel mill (Gerdau Ameristeel), a service center (Metals USA), a structural steel fabricator (Qualico Steel Company, Inc.), and a galvanizer (Sabre Galvanizing).

PKM Steel Service, a fabrication facility in Salina, Kan., attracted the largest SteelDay crowd with more than 1,000 attendees and offered facility tours, booth displays, and engineering seminars. As reported in the Salina Journal: "A friend invited me to come out and I was curious," stated first-time SteelDay attendee Ernest Wilcher of Salina. " He told me about what they work with so I wanted to see the process. I never knew where PKM was located. You hear about other manufacturers but when I saw this, I was like, ‘Wow.’ I want to see this factory in operation."

Smaller SteelDay events provided valuable time for relationship building. Structural steel fabricator AFCO Steel in Little Rock, Ark., brought in 12 attendees to its event for a shop tour and educational session. "All of our guests were our VIPs," commented Kevin Reynolds, sales and estimating manager at AFCO Steel. "We gave them a better understanding of what goes into fabricating structural steel."

One of SteelDay’s highly interactive events was an ‘Equipment Rodeo’ hosted by Topping Out Inc., in Omaha, Neb. Visitors of all ages and professional backgrounds experienced what it takes to be an ironworker by operating cranes through pylon obstacle tests, torch cutting steel plates, participating in welding training, and bolting structural steel.

"Our specific industry often goes unseen in the community and SteelDay is a great way for people to take part in the world we live in everyday," said Michael A. Naccarato, PE, chief corporate engineer, director of training/standards, Topping Out, Inc. "How many students and others can say they’ve operated a crane? We’re giving them a chance to try it."

In addition to connecting with local structural steel representatives across the U.S., this year’s SteelDay featured live webinars and new special events in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

In New York City the Steel Institute of New York and Owen Steel Company co-sponsored an evening presentation on "Building an Award Winning Structure," followed by a networking reception in the Samuel B. and David Rose Building at Lincoln Center Plaza.

"This year’s incredible SteelDay turnout and recognition was a major achievement for the structural steel industry, and AISC would like to thank everyone involved in its success," commented Chris Moor, AISC director of industry initiatives. "It’s truly a one of kind experience that allows the design and construction community, future engineers and architects, and others to learn how the industry works together to achieve amazing products — and we hope to provide even more opportunities in 2011."

For this year’s SteelDay, AISC partnered with national and international affiliated organizations: American Galvanizers Association, National Corrugated Steel Pipe Association, Canadian Institute of Steel Construction, and Promozione Acciaio in Italy. Together the organizations brought dozens of other relationship building events and seminars to the design and construction communities across the world.

SteelDay photos, videos, certificates of attendance, and more information can be found at Next year’s SteelDay is scheduled for September 23, 2011.