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UNT professor studies cold-formed steel for stronger buildings

UNT professor studies cold-formed steel for stronger buildings

November 20
21:08 2014

Paul Wedding / Staff Writer

UNT Associate Professor Cheng Yu has joined the Cold-Formed Steel Research Consortium, a group of professors dedicated to researching cold-formed steel to discover its full potential for construction.

Yu received a Ph.D. in civil and structural engineering from John Hopkins University. He is the founder and organizer of the International Student Competition on Cold-Formed Steel Design. He has served on several research teams on cold-formed steel as well as written several essays on the topic. His current research involves developing high performance systems for residential and commercial buildings.

“We’re trying to lead the direction of future building and construction technology,” Yu said on the consortium. “As researchers, we’re not trying to solve the problems of today, we’re trying to solve the problems of the future.”

The consortium was founded in 2013 as a way for universities to share their resources to quickly solve critical problems facing the construction industry. It is headquartered at John Hopkins University, with investigators at Virginia Polytechnic and State University as well. It also has affiliated investigators at several different universities.

Cold-formed steel, unlike other steel types, is made by rolling or pressing sheet steel in order to deform the steel into a useable product. As well as construction, it is used in the manufacturing of appliances and automobiles.

“Our ability to analyze and design cold-formed steel continues to get better and we can do so much more with it,” Principal Investigator Matt Eatherton said.

The major benefits of cold-formed steel include improved protection against hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes, making sure the building will stay standing.

Other benefits of cold-formed steel include faster production, high quality control, and greater reliability. It is 100 percent recyclable and its production generates less waste, less pollution and less noise. It is also quicker to construct than concrete.

By analyzing how cold-formed steel reacts to disasters such as earthquakes, the research consortium will be able to better understand how cold-formed steel performs during these events, and improve their performance based on that analysis, Eatherton said.

Geometrica, a construction company affiliated with the consortium, specializes in constructing domes and space frames for buildings such as sports venues, convention centers, offices and industrial plants.

Cecilio Zalba, a sales representative with Geometrics, said cold-formed steel is used in all of Geometrica’s construction and that the research done by the cold-formed steel research consortium will help in the future to design safer structures.

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