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First test for online training site

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A new website to train specialist steelwork designers in the use of Eurocode 3 and its differences from the British Standards will be tested this month.

ESCDOT (Eurocodes for Steelwork Contractors: Designers Online Training) will be unveiled on 10 May at a British Constructional Steelwork Association workshop.

The DTI Training and Skills programme funded a £60M two-month pilot which began in February. Because time and funding were limited, the pilot was tightly focused on portal frame design and stability, the effects of wind, and portal frame connections. Other subject areas will be covered later.

BCSA Director of Engineering Dr. David Moore said the website was aimed at specialists and assumes familiarity with the design approach of British Standards and the BCSA’s Green Book for the design of connections.

A working group comprising representatives from the BCSA, the Steel Construction Institute, steelwork contractors and software suppliers developed the site. Barrett Steel Buildings and purlin specialist Metsec Building Products were also represented because of their interest in portal frame design and wind loads on purlins respectively.

The 10 May workshop will be attended by members of the BCSA Process and Technical committee and used to seek feedback on how the site could be improved.

Dr Moore said the association will be submitting proposals for further DTI funding in the coming financial year to extend the website’s coverage. He added that input from members and the SCI was also being sought: “As information emerges from other projects, it should be possible with a relatively small amount of effort to adapt it for ESCDOT.”

As part of the project, the SCI is to set up an ESCDOT area on the SEFIE website to host an online forum where steelwork specialists can ask questions and exchange information. Software providers Acecad and ROM are supporting the project while CSC and Tekla have produced prototype versions of their CAD programs with links to ESCDOT from the software’s built-in help systems.

Dr Moore said: “The aim is to produce an integrated set of help systems. If a designer needs help that isn’t supplied by the software there will be a link to training material on ESCDOT, and if this doesn’t answer everything you can go the SEFIE site and post a question there.”

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