Spencer Quiel Named AISC Milek Fellow

The award is given annually to just one pre-tenure civil engineering professor in the U.S.


Spencer Quiel AISC Milek Fellowship

At an award ceremony held earlier this month in Orlando during the 2016 North American Steel Construction Conference (NASCC), Spencer Quiel, assistant professor of structural engineering, was given the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Milek Fellowship. This Fellowship is given annually to just one pre-tenure professor in the US to advance structural steel construction in both practice and research.

As part of the Fellowship, Quiel received a four-year, $200K research grant from AISC for a proposal titled "Performance-based design of passive fire protection for floor systems in steel-framed buildings."

The project will mix computational and experimental research, all of which will be conducted at Lehigh's Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems (ATLSS) Center. As Quiel explains, the underlying goal of the project is to formally promote performance-based provisions for the design of fire-resistant steel construction over the more widely used prescriptive methods. Prescriptive codes state how a building should be constructed based on ratings obtained from standardized experimental tests — the application of these codes typically falls under the responsibilities of the architect. These provisions focus on behavior of individual elements within a structural system with little consideration of how that element interacts with the surrounding structure. On the other hand, performance-based provisions state how the structural system as a whole should perform when subjected to a wider range of fire conditions and scenarios.

Recently, several government agencies and research organizations have suggested the former as a more comprehensive approach to resisting unwanted fire. Quiel, who has studied structural-fire engineering in different contexts since the start of his Ph.D. studies at Princeton University (with former Lehigh CEE graduate Dr. Maria Garlock '91, '03 Ph.D.), believes that this project is "well-positioned to contribute to the current national momentum toward further developments in structural-fire engineering."

Quiel says both the Fellowship and the research project will provide training in performance-based structural-fire engineering to students working with him at Lehigh. "At Lehigh, it opens up new opportunities for both graduate- and undergraduate-level research. We are also focused on providing more coursework and seminar instruction on this topic for our students who will be entering structural engineering practice."

Quiel currently has one graduate student, Amy Kordosky, working on the project, and he looks forward to adding several new graduate student researchers to the project team in the coming year.

By John Gilpatrick

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