I was able to attend the NASCC hosted by the American Institute of Steel Construction in Toronto last week. It was a 14 hour drive each way but the chance to see how modern technology is being applied to steel manufacturing was a positive learning experience, and Toronto is a modern city that seems to be expanding rapidly. In November of 2013 they had 181+ active construction cranes. In addition to the conference we explored the city using their subway system that could get us basically anywhere we wanted to go in a few minutes.
There were over 100 vendors ranging from steel manufacturers to ballistic rated tire protection for construction vehicles. The most impressive areas were the fabrication “booths” that Peddinghaus Corporation, Ocean Machinery, and Kinetic Cutting Systems had. They were automated steel work machines that could manipulate beams up to 44” deep, cut through steel 10” thick, and produce fine detail work in minutes. I watch a w-series beam be cut like butter in a few seconds. On the software side we learned about a program for calculating steel connections called Tekla that does all of the work for you and produces a file that can be manipulated with Revit. I was also able to try welding on a virtual machine that is used to train welders. The conference, while meant for engineers, was well worth the trip. There were 200+ registered students with only three from architecture. We attended a lecture on how to communicate with architects that was somewhat humorous. It seems we aren’t thought to be smart enough to understand their math wizardry.
The real highlight though was seeing Toronto. The University of Toronto was outstanding. It is a sprawling city campus with examples of architecture ranging from gothic to modern glass curtain walls. They rest of the city is blanketed by construction of new buildings, renovations and additions to the subway system, and new attractions like the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. You can always tell when you’re in a good area by how many Starbucks there are – I don’t think you could walk more than 10 minutes in any direction without seeing at least one. I felt like Canada is the 51st state as the only visual difference was that speed limits were in KPH. The dollar was accepted anywhere although we used Canadian currency whenever we had it due to the favorable exchange rate.