Nonprofit organisation the Southern African Institute of Steel Construction (Saisc) is evolving its technical learning sessions for steel construction to a digital platform.
The Saisc has been offering technical sessions for engineers since early March and, according to Saisc marketing director Denise Sherman, the sessions are a forum for members to get any of their questions about structural steel answered.
While there were only six attendees for the first sessions, the average a week has now reached 70 attendees.
Sherman says the steel construction handbook, known as the red book, is used: “We have been working through its chapters and different elements drawing on some of the book’s features and the challenges that we are aware of.”
The sessions comprise two sections. The first is used as a questions and answers session, during which the audience can raise questions; the second is dedicated to opening up the floor to the audience to raise any challenges that they have encountered, as well as to air various solutions that they can offer.
“One of the things that used to happen quite frequently in the past is that a lot of people would visit, call or set up a meeting to chat with our technical team at our premises,” Sherman points out.
The institute’s going digital with these sessions enables it to provide a weekly platfform to proactively engage with engineers to share some of the technical questions the institute receives on a regular basis.
Saisc technical director Amanuel Gebremeskel says that, since the start of these sessions, the institute has noticed that there have been younger engineers who join the sessions to ask questions and gain knowledge.
The older engineers are able to share that knowledge through the platform. “It's just a great way for members to continue contributing to the industry and share the knowledge that they've gained on a regular basis,” she adds.
The weekly technical sessions are the first step towards the future of structural steel training courses available to Saisc members, says Gebremeskel.
“We are looking at developing some courses that have been suggested from attendees and at creating self-paced courses that are available to members,” Gebremeskel comments.
Saisc Training Courses
“There are a variety of courses running this year comprising seismic design and construction, composite design, structural inspection and mine maintenance, mine shaft hoist, mine shaft hoisting systems, structural design and industrial vibration analysis, light-steel-frame building and the warehouse design course, as well as a builders course that runs over five days,” explains Sherman.
While these courses have been well adapted to the online platform, Gebremeskel believes that using online training, combined with traditional courses to form hybrid models, are the way of the future. He believes that using various formats, in-person and online, will assist in ensuring that the industry is equipped with the training it needs.
The deadline for the Steel Awards of 2022 have also been shifted to suit the new environment because of Covid-19. With an extended deadline for entries till December 10, 2021, a modified judging process and a three-year period for project eligibility, these awards aim to create a great opportunity for companies to showcase their work, he concludes.