Contact an Expert

News & Press

Overview

Graduate research strives to enhance the fire-resilient design of steel structures

In 2019, CSA Group launched its Graduate Scholarship Program to support students enrolled in a Master’s program whose research is related to standards. In this series, we would like to introduce the five students who have been awarded the 2020 scholarship and tell you how their research has the potential to impact standards, as well as their professional growth in the standards world.

Picture of Chloe Jeanneret welding steelSteel structures are very common in residential and commercial construction. When exposed to fire, the elements within these structures expand and contract, inducing large forces, called thermal loading, upon steel beam and column connections. However, the behavior of these connections under thermal loading is not well understood, impacting the way engineers design structures. When considering their resiliency, i.e., the ability to absorb applied stress and recover to its original shape, the fire engineering community relies on narrow, prescribed rules. Knowing more about what happens to steel connections under extreme temperatures could help shift fire safety design towards performance-based parameters. Such an approach would allow engineers to optimize their structural design and enhance the safety of structures. It would also mean more design options for architects.

Steel structures are very common in residential and commercial construction. When exposed to fire, the elements within these structures expand and contract, inducing large forces, called thermal loading, upon steel beam and column connections. However, the behavior of these connections under thermal loading is not well understood, impacting the way engineers design structures. When considering their resiliency, i.e., the ability to absorb applied stress and recover to its original shape, the fire engineering community relies on narrow, prescribed rules. Knowing more about what happens to steel connections under extreme temperatures could help shift fire safety design towards performance-based parameters. Such an approach would allow engineers to optimize their structural design and enhance the safety of structures. It would also mean more design options for architects.

Chloe Jeanneret became interested in this topic during her undergraduate studies at Carleton University. Now pursuing her Master’s degree in York University’s Civil Engineering department, she wants to build upon her previous work in the area.

Chloe’s research focuses on the thermo-mechanical principles that control the behavior of steel connections during fire exposures, such as fire dynamics, heat transfer, and movement restraints. With a better understanding of these mechanisms, she wants to develop a computational tool that would assist in designing safe, resilient, and economical steel connections. Her method could also help enhance the standard addressing the design of steel structures, CSA S16:19, specifically its normative annex that provides guidance on fire protection design. The close connection of Chloe’s research to the potential standard improvement made the project well-suited for the support CSA Group offers to students through its Graduate Scholarship Program.

“I’m hoping that my research can influence the standard on the design of steel structures, CSA S16:19, and that my project can make a difference when it comes to designing buildings. It feels great, but it’s also a great responsibility to do everything properly.”

– Chloe Jeanneret, Master’s Student, York University

Jian’s goal is to find the right parameters for the masonry walls so that civil engineers can predict the resistance more accurately for future designs. She hopes these changes will be incorporated into the next edition of CSA S304.

As the first step of her project, Jian has been looking at published research on the subject and studying how other standards from Australia, New Zealand, China, Europe, and the USA deal with this issue. She finds it fascinating how differently the standards could be defined, reflecting different approaches, conditions, even traditions in different countries. This made her realize that often, standards have to be adapted to the specifics of the region. So before getting to any experimental work, Jian wants to develop a framework for how the shear design should be addressed in the Canadian context, with Canadian materials and Canadian construction forms.

Jian also learned that developing and amending standards involves stakeholders from different areas, including practicing engineers, producers, manufacturers, academia, and users. People across many industry sectors volunteer their time to contribute, working together to make the standard as robust as possible. And Dr. Shrive is confident that Jian can bring an important perspective to the discussion. He hopes she will present the results of her work to the CSA S304 committee, proposing a much more efficient way to address shear design within the safety limits required in the standard.

I would like to see students having a much greater appreciation of standards. I think it would be helpful if we could explain to students what the objectives of standards are, and that, as they become professionals in their field, they can participate in making standards better.”

– Dr. Nigel Shrive, University of Calgary

Jian imagines “…the smartest and most knowledgeable people are working together to make the standards better” and believes that her contribution could help advance the state of the art in this area. And still being a student, that thought is extremely exciting and thrilling.

Learn more about CSA Group’s Graduate Scholarship Program.

PUBLISHED ON

May 3, 2021

Contact an
Expert

We’re always here to help. Let’s talk.

We’re here to answer your questions and help you get started right away. Call or send us a message anytime.

Contact Us