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Fort Wayne

Industry Axis

Jeff founded Needham’s engineering division in 1989 and the firm has steadily grown under his direction. An expansion of the firm to vertically integrate steel building products, DBS, allowed the firm to focus on the design/build industry to bring products and services to general contractors. He was instrumental in developing the hybrid concrete and steel “hardwall” building system to allow the use of steel roof systems with concrete tilt-up walls.

Needham DBS Announces New Management

The Board of Directors of Needham DBS is pleased to announce the following management changes effective July 1, 2018.

Karen Hand, P.E. is the new President of the firm. Karen will direct all operations of Needham DBS and will also manage the Kansas City office. Karen started her career with Needham and Associates in 1998 after working for two other Kansas City firms. She is a civil engineering graduate of Missouri University of Science and Technology and holds a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management from the University of Kansas. Karen will continue to be a leader in concrete construction on the Board of Directors of the Tilt-up Concrete Association and as a member of American Concrete Institute Committee 551 on Tilt-Up Concrete Design and Construction.

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Composite Concrete Panels - The Future for Tilt-up Walls?


As I have watched the tilt-up concrete construction industry develop over many years, I have appreciated the way it has become a preferred method of construction for many building types. This growth has been based on a number of improvements in construction and design technology, such as larger mobile cranes, the recognition and adoption of slender wall design in building codes, and a growing appreciation for the flexibility and speed of tilt-up methods. The widespread adoption of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) embraces the tilt-up industry, which already provides a fully code-compliant panel. The industry has the potential to make these panels more structurally efficient through the use of composite panels. This is a huge opportunity many designers and contractors may be missing.

To view the entire article published in the Summer 2017 Issue of Tilt-Up Today Magazine, visit

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Let's Take Back Our Profession

In the February 2017 issue of Structure magazine, the Structural Forum section contains a passionate debate on the complexity of ASCE 7-16. (For non-engineers, this is the standard that prescribes loads for buildings and is adopted into building codes.) It has become increasingly complex since its inception in 1982 and author Jim DeStefano argues that it is time for this to stop. He states that there is no evidence that more complex loading data actually creates a safer structure. He recommends "we take back our profession".

On this point I strongly agree. In fact, it has been my experience that increasing complexity leads to less safe buildings due to misapplication of code criteria. The code is so complex that for many simple structures it is far easier to just use older procedures and just slightly over-design the building. In most cases, it has little impact on the cost of construction.

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