ASCE has honored Simpson Strong-Tie’s Yield-Link Moment Connection for Structural Steel Frames with the 2022 Charles Pankow Award for Innovation.

This is an important advancement in structural steel frame efficiency and resiliency. Developed over the past 14 years, with research contributions from Thomas M. Murray, P.E., Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Virginia Tech, John Judd of the University of Wyoming, and the Hazelton Baker Risk Group, this new technology was evolved and expanded for applicability by Simpson Strong-Tie to a broad range of building types. Realizing, as it does, the speed and cost-effectiveness of bolted structural streel field connections combined with the resiliency of a replaceable yield-link structural fuse which protects beams and columns during significant seismic events, the Yield-Link Moment Connection is unanimously recognized as the 2022 Pankow Award recipient.

The Simpson Strong-Tie Yield-Link Moment Connection is a field-bolted connection that uses patented Yield-Link structural fuse technology to mitigate damage to beams and columns during seismic events. Whereas all other AISC-prequalified moment frame connections are specifically designed to damage the beams when dissipating seismic energy, the unique Yield-Link moment connection moves that damage into bolt-on, bolt-off replaceable structural fuse elements, keeping the response of the beam elastic in the process. This, in turn, creates a situation where the beam can be designed without the need for lateral-torsional buckling bracing. Initial prequalification testing and analysis focused on meeting the needs of light-frame structures. More recent prequalification testing has been completed utilizing W36X beams and W36X columns with a maximum yield area of 1 inch by 6 inches.

Along with the full-scale testing of frames utilizing the expanded connection, advanced nonlinear FEA work has been completed that refines the connection design procedure and eliminates some empirical limits put in place during the first round of prequalification. Additionally, new and extensive nonlinear response history analysis was conducted on four-, eight-, 12-, and 20-story buildings to assess their seismic performance and compare it with the response of similar buildings utilizing reduced beam section (RBS) connections. The results showed that the buildings designed using the Yield-Link moment connection had collapse resistance equal to or better than the buildings with RBS connections.

The Charles Pankow Award for Innovation was established by the Civil Engineering Research Foundation (CERF) in 1996. Named for industry visionary Charles J. Pankow, the award recognizes the contributions of organizations working collaboratively to advance the design and construction industry by introducing innovation into practice. It was instituted as a Society award on December 17, 2008.