• CourseBuilder for Structural Design

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    CourseBuilder for Structural Design focuses on applied structural design of the three most common construction materials: structural steel, reinforced concrete and wood.

    • Each lesson uses high-resolution color images, videos and animations that help students visualize these components and understand the way each material behaves in an on-site setting.
    • Self-quizzing, end-of-lesson questions, and note-taking are built into these lessons to improve comprehension.
    • With an Internet connection, students can access their lessons from anywhere.
    • You can choose which lessons to use to meet specific course needs. 

    About the Author

    Thomas Burns, Ph.D., is the chairman of Civil Engineering Technology at Cincinnati State and has taught the Structural sequence of courses to construction management and architectural technology students for 24 years. He has been awarded teaching excellence awards at Cincinnati State and the University of Cincinnati. In addition, Dr. Burns has served in many roles with the American Council for Construction Education (ACCE) over the last dozen years. These duties include being an educator trustee of the ACCE board, chairman of the student learning outcomes task force, vice chair of the accreditation committee and an active member of the standards committee. He is also a licensed professional engineer and has significant professional leadership at the national level as an Educator Trustee of the American Council for Construction Education (ACCE). Dr. Burns currently serves as vice-chair of both the ACCE accreditation committee and student learning outcomes task force. He has served as an external reviewer for other construction programs in Ohio, Texas, Florida, and New York, and has published several textbooks, including Applied Statics & Strength of Materials (2e). Dr. Burns has undergraduate and graduate degrees in Civil Engineering and earned his Ph.D. from Indiana State, specializing in Construction Management.


  • Lesson 1: Structural Steel—The Material and Its Production

    The steelmaking process produces the material that will ultimately comprise the beams, columns, and other members that we use in construction. Much of the steel produced is "rolled" into these basic shapes. This lesson will provide an overview of the steelmaking process and the production of such steel shapes. It will also present information on the mechanical properties of steel that make it a very useful building material.

      Unit 1: Composition and Creation of Steel
      • Topic 1: Types of Structural Steel
      • Topic 2: The Production of Steel
      Unit 2: Mechanical Properties of Steel
      • Topic 1: Understanding the Stress-Strain Diagram
      Unit 3: Steel Shapes
      • Topic 1: Steel Shape Designations
      • Topic 2: Steel Fabrication

    Lesson 2: Structural Steel—AISC Design Philosophy

    Methods of design are sometimes referred to as design philosophies. In essence, these philosophies outline a thought process that designers will follow in order to design structures that are safe, economical, and practical. There are several philosophies that are broadly recognized in the world of steel design today, including the allowable strength design (ASD) and load and resistance factor design (LRFD) discussed in this lesson.

      Unit 1: Steel Design Methods
      • Topic 1: Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) and Allowable Strength Design (ASD)
      • Topic 2: Load Combinations
      Unit 2: Calculating Load Paths
      • Topic 1: Load Path

    Lesson 3: Steel Tension Members—Design and Behavior

    The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco has two main cables that act as giant tension members. The main cables are 7,650 feet long and are anchored at each end of the bridge, while passing over the top of the main towers which are 746 feet tall. Although they are referred to as cables, each cable is actually comprised of 27,572 galvanized steel wires that are 0.192 inch in diameter. If the individual wires in both cables were laid end-to-end, they would be 80,000 miles long. This would be enough wire to wrap around the equator of the Earth more than ten times!


    Tension members are common building components used in steel construction. They may be found as bracing members, chord members in trusses, hanger supports, and a variety of other types of members. This lesson will provide an overview of tension member behavior as well as the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) requirements used for the evaluation and design of tension members in the allowable strength design (ASD) and the load and resistance factor design (LRFD) philosophies.

      Unit 1: Tension Member Behavior
      • Topic 1: Gross Area and Effective Net Area
      • Topic 2: Nominal Capacity of Tension Members
      Unit 2: Effective Net Area and Design Capacity of Tension Members
      • Topic 1: Calculating Effective Net Area
      • Topic 2: Calculating Design Capacity over the Gross Area and Effective Net Area
      Unit 3: Staggered Bolts>
      • Topic 1: Consideration of Diagonal Fracture Paths
      • Topic 2: Determining Critical Net Area
      Unit 4: Block Shear
      • Topic 1: Determining Nominal Capacity for Block Shear
      • Topic 2: Determining Design Capacity in Block Shear
      Unit 5: Tension Member Design
      • Topic 1: Iterative Approach to Tension Member Design—ASD
      • Topic 2: Iterative Approach to Tension Member Design—LRFD

    Lesson 4: Steel Compression Members—Design and Behavior

    Compression members are an important part of buildings and other structures. Compression members carrying vertical loads are called columns; they provide the primary path of load transfer in a building. A column transfers floor loads down to the column below it and ultimately to the foundation and then to the underlying soil. This unit will provide fundamental information on the behavior of compression members including the AISC requirements for the evaluation and design of steel compression members.

      Unit 1: Compression Member Behavior
      • Topic 1: Euler Buckling Equation
      • Topic 2: Effective Length
      Unit 2: AISC Specifications for Compression Members
      • Topic 1: Design Methods for Columns—LRFD and ASD
      • Topic 2: Nominal Capacity of a Column
      • Topic 3: Design Capacity of a Column Using ASD and LRFD
      • Topic 4: Braced Columns
      Unit 3: Steel Column Design
      • Topic 1: Trial-and-Error Method for Column Design
      • Topic 2: Design Using AISC Column Tables

    Lesson 5: Steel Beams—Design and Behavior

    Steel beams are found in all types of construction—buildings, bridges, sporting venues, and entertainment facilities. Steel beams serve as primary structural support elements that carry loads placed on floors, roadways, and roofs and transfer these to vertical support elements such as columns or foundations.

    This lesson will provide an overview of steel beam behavior as well as the AISC requirements used for the evaluation and design of rolled steel beams using the ASD and LRFD philosophies.

      Unit 1: Beam Behavior
      • Topic 1: Bending Stress
      • Topic 2: AISC Specifications Using ASD and LRFD
      Unit 2: AISC Formulas for Nominal Moment Capacity, Mn
      • Topic 1: Calculating Nominal Moment Capacity, Mn
      • Topic 2: Evaluating Design Moment Capacity Using ASD and LRFD
      Unit 3: Compact Steel Shapes
      • Topic 1: Determining Compactness of a Shape
      Unit 4: Steel Beam Design
      • Topic 1: Beam Design Using AISC Charts
      • Topic 2: Beam Design Using Trial and Error
      Unit 5: Beam-Column Behavior
      • Topic 1: Evaluating Beam-Columns per AISC Specifications

    Lesson 6: Structural Steel in Construction—Plans, Shop Drawings, and Fabrication

    After the structural steel design phase is complete, the design must be interpreted and steel members must be produced and delivered to the project site. Many times, project schedules will show the steel procurement activity as having a duration of many months. This is because the process of producing and delivering steel is very involved and usually involves multiple companies, all of which have unique roles and responsibilities. This lesson provides an overview of several important parts of the steel procurement process.

      Unit 1: The Basics of Structural Plans
      • Topic 1: Structural Framing Plan
      • Topic 2: Column Schedules
      Unit 2: Steel Fabrication
      • Topic 1: The Steel Fabricator
      • Topic 2: The Steel Erector
      Unit 3: The Role of Shop Drawings
      • Topic 1: Review of Shop Drawings
      • Topic 2: Batching of Shop Drawings

    Lesson 7: Reinforced Concrete—The Material and Its Properties

    Reinforced concrete is a very common building material. The ability to form reinforced concrete into an endless variety of shapes provides the flexibility that designers find useful for many different types of structures. This lesson explores the design and behavior of common reinforced concrete members such as beams and columns per the American Concrete Institute's (ACI's) Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete and Commentary (ACI 318). Specific design requirements will be discussed using the strength design method. In addition to design and structural principles, this lesson will also present practical issues in reinforced concrete construction such as shop drawings.

      Unit 1: Concrete—Its Components and Properties
      • Topic 1: Portland Cement
      • Topic 2: Water
      • Topic 3: Aggregate
      • Topic 4: Air
      • Topic 5: Admixtures
      • Topic 6: Concrete Construction
      Unit 2: Reinforced Steel and Concrete
      • Topic 1: Reinforcing Steel
      • Topic 2: Reinforced Concrete Structures
      • Topic 3: Reinforced Concrete Design Philosophy

    Lesson 8: Reinforced Concrete—ACI Design Philosophy

    Design methods are sometimes referred to as design philosophies. In essence, a design philosophy is an outline of processes that designers follow in order to design structures that are safe, economical, and practical.

    The organization in charge of developing, maintaining, and updating the design philosophy used for reinforced concrete building in the United States is the American Concrete Institute (ACI). The ACI has been in existence since 1904 and has a variety of committees that are dedicated to the advancement of knowledge in the field of reinforced concrete. One particular committee, ACI 318—the Structural Concrete Building Code committee—is actually tasked with maintaining and updating the building code. A new 2011 edition of the Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete and Commentary (ACI 318-11) is the current building code.

    In reinforced concrete building, the design philosophy used is known as the "strength design." The strength design method requires that the design capacity of the member be equal to or greater than the load effects on that member.

      Unit 1: The Strength Design Method
      • Topic 1: The Fundamentals of Strength Design
      • Topic 2: ACI Code Load Combinations
      Unit 2: Load Paths
      • Topic 1: Load Path Concepts
      • Topic 2: Load Paths in Reinforced Concrete Structures

    Lesson 9: Reinforced Concrete Beams—Bending Design and Behavior

    Reinforced concrete beams are a mainstay of modern structures. From buildings to bridges, reinforced concrete beams serve to carry loads on floors, roofs, and roadways through the structure to the underlying foundation system. A reinforced concrete beam is a composite member, being composed of steel and concrete. These two materials must work in harmony to resist bending moments that are induced from the applied loads.

    This lesson provides an overview of reinforced concrete beam behavior as well as the ACI requirements for evaluating and designing these beams using the strength design philosophy.

      Unit 1: Reinforced Concrete Beam Behavior
      • Topic 1: Reinforced Concrete Beam Notation
      • Topic 2: Nominal Moment Capacity, Mn
      Unit 2: The ACI Strength Design Method—Evaluation of Reinforced Concrete Beams
      • Topic 1: The ACI Strength Design Method for Beams in Bending
      • Topic 2: Evaluating Reinforced Concrete Beams in Bending
      Unit 3: The ACI Strength Design Method—Design of Reinforced Concrete Beams
      • Topic 1: Ductility Considerations of Reinforced Concrete Beams
      • Topic 2: Designing Reinforced Concrete Beams in Bending
      Unit 4: One-Way Slabs—Another Type of Reinforced Concrete Beam
      • Topic 1: One-Way Slabs
      • Topic 2: Evaluation of One-Way Slabs

    Lesson 10: Reinforced Concrete Beams—Shear Behavior and Development Length

    Reinforced concrete beams have to resist bending moments and shear forces. Earlier information on structural behavior has included material on shear forces in beams. Shear forces try to "rip" or "tear" a beam apart. Reinforced concrete beams must resist this effect through the combined action of the reinforcing steel and concrete. These two materials must work together to resist the shear forces that are induced from the applied loads.

    This lesson provides an overview of shear behavior in beams as well as the ACI requirements used for evaluation and design.

      Unit 1: Reinforced Concrete Beam Behavior in Shear
      • Topic 1: Reinforced Concrete Beam Behavior for Shear
      • Topic 2: Nominal Shear Capacity, Vn
      Unit 2: The ACI Strength Design Method—Evaluation of Reinforced Concrete Beams for Shear
      • Topic 1: The ACI Strength Design Method for Shear in Beams
      • Topic 2: Additional ACI Code Criteria for Shear
      • Topic 3: Evaluating Reinforced Concrete Beams in Shear
      Unit 3: The ACI Strength Design Method—Design of Reinforced Concrete Beams for Shear
      • Topic 1: Design for Shear in Reinforced Concrete Beams
      • Topic 2: Changing the Design of Stirrup Spacing
      Unit 4: Development Length of Reinforcing Steel
      • Topic 1: Anchorage of Steel Reinforcement
      • Topic 2: ACI Development Length Formula
      • Topic 3: Standard Hooks
      • Topic 4: ACI Development Length Formula for Hooks
      • Topic 5: Tension Lap Splices

    Lesson 11: Reinforced Concrete Columns—Design and Behavior

    Reinforced concrete columns are important structural members in buildings, bridges, and other structures. In addition to resisting compressive forces, sometimes columns also must resist significant bending moments similar to beams. This combination of compression forces plus bending moments makes a column behave as a beam-column—part beam and part column.

    This lesson provides an overview of the behavior in reinforced concrete columns as well as the ACI requirements used for the evaluation and design of such columns.

      Unit 1: Reinforced Concrete Column Behavior
      • Topic 1: Basic Types of Reinforced Concrete Columns
      • Topic 2: Reinforced Concrete Column Failure
      • Topic 3: Concrete Column Notation
      Unit 2: Strength Design Requirements for Reinforced Concrete Columns
      • Topic 1: Concrete Column Behavior
      • Topic 2: Interaction Diagrams
      • Topic 3: Determining Compressive Capacity
      Unit 3: Design of Reinforced Concrete Columns
      • Topic 1: ACI Code Requirements for Columns
      • Topic 2: Column Design Using Interaction Diagrams

    Lesson 12: Reinforced Concrete in Construction—Plans, Rebar Fabrication, and Estimating Fundamentals

      Unit 1: Structural Plans for Reinforced Concrete Structures
      • Topic 1: Structural Framing Plan
      • Topic 2: Beam, Bar and Column Schedules
      Unit 2: Rebar Fabrication
      • Topic 1: Steel Reinforcing - Rebar
      • Topic 2: The Rebar Fabricator
      • Topic 3: The Rebar Fabrication Shop
      Unit 3: Reinforced Concrete Quantities
      • Topic 1: Cast-in-Place Concrete Construction
      • Topic 2: Concrete Quantity Takeoff
      • Topic 3: Rebar Quantity Takeoff

    Lesson 13: Wood —The Material and Its Properties

    Wood is a very common building material in many light construction applications. The ability to cut sawn lumber to any length using relatively simple power tools allows framing to occur quickly. Additionally, the connecting of lumber members is easily accomplished through standard fasteners such as nails, screws, and bolts. This lesson explores the fundamental properties of wood that influence its behavior in both the design and construction phases. Specific design requirements will be discussed using the allowable stress design (ASD) method.

      Unit 1: Wood—The Material
      • Topic 1: Composition of Wood
      • Topic 2: Common Properties of Wood
      Unit 2: Types of Wood Products
      • Topic 1: Sawn Lumber
      • Topic 2: Wood Panels and Engineered Lumber
      Unit 3: Basic Wood Framing and Design
      • Topic 1: Structural Framing
      • Topic 2: Allowable Stress Design Philosophy

    Lesson 14: Wood—NDS Design Philosophy

      Unit 1: Wood Design Methods
      • Topic 1: ASD and LRFD Concepts
      • Topic 2: Load Combinations
      Unit 2: Calculating Load Paths
      • Topic 1: Load Path Concepts
      • Topic 2: Load Paths in Wood Structures

    Lesson 15: Wood Beams—Design and Behavior

      Unit 1: Beam Behavior
      • Topic 1: How Beams Behave
      • Topic 2: ASD and LRFD Concepts
      Unit 2: Evaluation of Wood Beams
      • Topic 1: Reference Design Stress Values
      • Topic 2: Sawn Lumber Beams - ASD
      • Topic 3: Beam Evaluation using ASD
      • Topic 4: Sawn Lumber Beams - LRFD
      • Topic 5: Beam Evaluation Using LRFD
      Unit 3: Design of Wood Beams
      • Topic 1: Design Processes
      • Topic 2: Sawn Lumber Beam Design Using ASD
      • Topic 3: Sawn Lumber Beam Design using LRFD

    Lesson 16: Wood Columns—Design and Behavior

      Unit 1: Column Behavior
      • Topic 1: Column Fundamentals
      • Topic 2: ASD and LRFD Concepts
      Unit 2: Evaluation of Wood Beams
      • Topic 1: Reference Design Stress Values
      • Topic 2: Sawn Lumber Columns—ASD
      • Topic 3: Column Evaluation Using ASD
      • Topic 4: Sawn Lumber Columns—LRFD
      • Topic 5: Columns Evaluation Using LRFD
      Unit 3: Design of Wood Beams
      • Topic 1: Design Processes
      • Topic 2: Sawn Lumber Beam Design Using ASD
      • Topic 3: Sawn Lumber Beam Design Using LRFD

    Lesson 17: Wood Fasteners—Design and Behavior

      Unit 1: Wood Fasteners
      • Topic 1: Types of Wood Fasteners
      • Topic 2: Types of Stresses on Wood Fasteners
      Unit 2: Evaluation of Wood Fasteners
      • Topic 1: Reference Design Stress Values
      • Topic 2: Nailed and Bolted Splice Joints —ASD
      • Topic 3: Splice Joint Evaluation using ASD
      • Topic 4: Nailed and Bolted Splice Joints—LRFD
      • Topic 5: Splice Joint Evaluation using LRFD
      Unit 3: Design of Fasteners
      • Topic 1: Design Processes
      • Topic 2: Fastener Design Using ASD
      • Topic 3: Fastener Design Using LRFD

    Lesson 18: Wood in Construction—Plans and Planning for Construction

      Unit 1: Construction Plans for Wood-framed Structures
      • Topic 1: Framing Plans
      • Topic 2: Details and Sections
      Unit 2: Wood Framing
      • Topic 1: Floor Framing
      • Topic 2: Wall framing
      Unit 3: Estimating Quantities
      • Topic 1: Sawn Lumber
      • Topic 2: Wood Panel Products