Connections Teaching Toolkit • iThis connection design tool kit for students is based on theoriginal steel sculpture designed by Duane S. Ellifritt, P.E.,Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering at the Uni-versity of Florida. The tool kit includes this teaching guide,a 3D CAD file of the steel sculpture, and a shear connectioncalculator tool. The teaching guide contains drawings and photographs of each connection depicted on the steel sculp-ture, the CAD file is a 3D AutoCAD® model of the steelsculpture with complete dimensions and details, and the cal-culator tool is a series of MathCAD® worksheets thatenables the user to perform a comprehensive check of allrequired limit states.The tool kit is intended as a supplement to, not a replace-ment for, the information and data presented in the Ameri-can Institute of Steel Construction’s Manual of SteelConstruction, Load & Resistance Factor Design, Third Edi-tion, hereafter, referred to as the AISC Manual. The goal of the tool kit is to assist students and educators in both learn-ing and teaching basic structural steel connection design byvisualization tools and software application.All information and data presented in any and all parts of the teaching tool kit are for educational purposes only.Although the steel sculpture depicts numerous connections,it is by no means all-inclusive. There are many ways toconnect structural steel members together.In teaching engineering students in an introductory coursein steel design, often the topic of connections is put off untilthe end of the course if covered at all. Then with the crushof all the other pressures leading up to the end of the semes-ter, even these few weeks get squeezed until connections arelucky to be addressed for two or three lectures. One reasonfor slighting connections in beginning steel design, other than time constraints, is that they are sometimes viewed asa “detailing problem” best left to the fabricator. Or, the mis-taken view is taken that connections get standardized, espe-cially shear connections, so there is little creativity neededin their design and engineers view it as a poor use of their time. The AISC Manual has tables and detailing informa-tion on many standard types of connections, so the processis simplified to selecting a tabulated connection that willcarry the design load. Many times, the engineer will simplyindicate the load to be transmitted on the design drawingsand the fabricator will select an appropriate connection.Yet connections are the glue that holds the structuretogether and, standardized and routine as many of them mayseem, it is very important for a structural engineer to under-stand their behavior and design. Historically, most major structural failures have been due to some kind of connectionfailure. Connections are always designed as planar, two-dimensional elements, even though they have definite three-dimensional behavior. Students who have never beenaround construction sites to see steel being erected have adifficult time visualizing this three-dimensional character.Try explaining to a student the behavior of a shop-welded,field-bolted double-angle shear connection, where the out-standing legs are made purposely to flex under load andapproximate a true pinned connection. Textbooks generallyshow orthogonal views of such connections, but still manystudents have trouble in “seeing” the real connection.In the summer of 1985, after seeing the inability of manystudents to visualize even simple connections, Dr. Ellifritt began to search for a way to make connections more real for them. Field trips were one alternative, but the availabilityof these is intermittent and with all the problems of liability,some construction managers are not too anxious to have agroup of students around the jobsite. Thought was given to building some scale models of connections and bringingthem into the classroom, but these would be heavy to movearound and one would have the additional problem storingthem all when they were not in use.The eventual solution was to create a steel sculpture thatwould be an attractive addition to the public art already oncampus, something that would symbolize engineering ingeneral, and that could also function as a teaching aid. Itwas completed and erected in October 1986, and is usedevery semester to show students real connections and realsteel members in full scale.Since that time, many other universities have requested acopy of the plans from the University of Florida and have built similar structures on their campuses.