Night School 35: Fundamentals of Connection Design

Presented by: Matthew Eatherton, PhD and Brad Davis, PhD

This course consists of eight, 1.5 hour sessions and is intended as an introduction and review of the fundamentals of connection design.

Session 1:  Fundamental Concepts, Part I, provides an overview of basic connection types including tension, compression, framing, and moment connections. Classification of beam-to-column connections will be discussed, followed by a review of limit states in the load path. Bolt related limit states and detailing will be reviewed with discussions on different types of bolts and bolt connections, bolt installation, bolt shear strength, and combined shear plus tension strength.

Session 2: Fundamental Concepts, Part I, discusses bolt holes in calculations, basic weld related limit states and detailing, eccentric bolted and welded connections, direct loaded tension connections, block shear, the Whitmore Section, and light bracing connections. Design examples will be presented to demonstrate concepts discussed.

Session 3: Shear Connections, Part I, provides an overview of various types of shear connections including the advantages and disadvantages of each. Design considerations for shear connections, a review of limit states for block shear and flexural strength in coped beams, and shear end-plate and double angle connection design will be discussed. Design examples will be presented to demonstrate the concepts discussed.

Session 4: Shear Connections, Part II, covers single plate connection design, including both conventional and extended single plate connections. The differences between the two were contrasted in design examples. The design of single angle connections, stiffened and unstiffened seated connections are also discussed. The presentation of stiffened seated connections includes a discussion on a simplified approach.

Session 5: Moment Connections, Part I, covers wind and low seismic moment connection design. Various moment connections are discussed including flange welded-web bolted connections, flange plate welded-web bolted connections, flange plate bolted-web bolted connections, and moment end-plate connections. Column side limit states will be discussed followed by the presentation of a design example.

Session 6: Moment Connections, Part II will include an introduction to end-plate moment connections and focus on gravity / wind design. This session will review concepts, design procedures, and design examples consistent with the newly released AISC Design Guide 39.

Session 7: Bracing Connections, presents information on light and heavy bracing connections and discussed the differences and similarities between the two. Typical details for light and heavy connections will be presented. Member, bolt and weld limit states will be reviewed. The presentation then introduces the Uniform Force Method for designing bracing connections.

Session 8: Introduction to Seismic Connections, will provide an overview of seismic connections for engineers that don’t typically perform seismic design. The concepts of ductile mechanisms and capacity design will be introduced. The characteristics of special and intermediate moment frame connections will be explained, and the current prequalified moment connection types will be discussed. The session will also cover the design of special concentrically braced frame connections. Brief design examples, highlighting key calculations for both moment connections and bracing connections, will be presented to demonstrate concepts.

Recording access! Night School courses allow both group and individual registration options access to the live broadcasts and the recordings! Earning PDH credit for viewing a recorded session requires passing a quiz. Access to all recordings and quizzes ends on October 3, 2024. 

Individual Registration

Register one person. Each registrant has access to the course including the live webinar, recording, and quiz for each session, the final exam, and a certificate.

    • $500 Member
    • $900 Non-Member
    • $250 Student/Faculty
    • Government Agency:  Discounts available.  Contact
Group Registration
Register an unlimited number of people from your company roster. Each registrant has access to the course including the live webinar, recording, and quiz for each session, the final exam, and a certificate. All registrants must participate from their own account to receive credit.
    • $1480 Member
    • $2280 Non-Member
    • Government Agency:  Discounts available.  Contact

Substitution and Cancellations:  Substitutions may be made at any time. Cancellations received 1-3 days prior to the webinar will be charged a $50 service charge. Cancellations and no shows the day of the webinar session will not receive a refund.

Connection Instructions:  Click on "Session # Live Webinar" in the course navigation. The webinar can be accessed on that page 15 minutes prior start time.  Handouts may be downloaded on that page 24 hours in advance of the webinar.

Are you already registered as a group and need to add more colleagues? Add to your group registration here.

Course Schedule
Live broadcast for all sessions 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Central

July 16, 2024 Session 1: Fundamental Concepts, Part I
July 23, 2024 Session 2: Fundamental Concepts, Part II
July 30, 2024 Session 3: Shear Connections, Part I
August 6, 2024 Session 4: Shear Connections, Part II
August 13, 2024 Session 5: Moment Connections, Part I
August 20, 2024 Session 6: Moment Connections, Part II
August 27, 2024 Session 7: Bracing Connections
September 3, 2024 Session 8: Introduction to Seismic Connections


Brad Davis, is an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Kentucky where he is responsible for all steel design coursework and has received excellence in teaching awards. As the owner of Davis Structural Engineering, LLC, he provides consulting services for structural vibration, steel connections, forensics, and advanced steel design applications. Dr. Davis earned his Ph.D. from Virginia Tech and has an S.E. license and P.E. licenses in 14 states. Dr. Davis ​has been a member of the AISC Committee on Manuals for over 20 years and is a consultant for the Steel Solutions Center. He has published approximately two dozen papers on vibration, and has presented continuing education courses for vibrations and steel connections to various industry and professional groups.



Matthew Eatherton, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. He started at Virginia Tech in 2010 after completing his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Before entering the PhD program, he worked as a practicing structural engineer for seven years, most of which in San Francisco, California designing buildings to resist seismic loads. His research has focused on understanding and improving the behavior of steel seismic systems, steel moment frame connections, developing new structural systems with enhanced seismic performance, and floor systems for steel buildings. He is an active member of the AISC Manuals committee and two AISC technical committees as well as contributing to BSSC PUC issue teams. He has received several awards including the 2012 AISC Milek Faculty Fellowship, 2015 NSF CAREER Award, 2016 ASCE Moissef Paper award, 2016 AISC Early Faculty Award, and at Virginia Tech, was named the Raymond G. and Madelyn Ann Curry Faculty Fellow in 2018. He coauthored the AISC Design Guide 39 entitled End-Plate Moment Connections with Thomas M. Murray.