The Steel SpeedConnection Challenge

Cause a paradigm shift in steel building construction by reinventing the way steel beams and columns are connected.

This challenge is closed


This challenge is closed




We're building the future with steel--and we're looking for great minds to revolutionize how we do it!

It's all about connections: How do we connect structural steel beams and columns? 

The key words here are FAST and EASY - to design, fabricate, and erect safely. Your outside-the-box idea could become an open-source, non-proprietary system that will revolutionize the entire industry! 

We want to hear perspectives from all industries and academic affiliations--architects, engineers (any type), construction professionals/tradesmen, structural steel professionals/tradesmen, researchers, students, entrepreneurs, and anyone else with a spark of inspiration. 


The Opportunity

Over the last century, structural steel has revolutionized the construction industry and left a remarkable legacy of greener, stronger, faster, and smarter designs and construction. However, structural steel buildings would not be possible without the connections that hold them together. The American Institute of Steel Construction is seeking innovative connection ideas that will make the next century of steel construction even faster and easier than current methods.


Today's Methods

Here are just a few of the ways the industry currently connects beams and columns: 

Watch a short demonstration video here.


Tomorrow's Opportunities

We believe that by thinking outside of the box, and possibly tapping into the wisdom of other industries and technologies, we can identify ways to make structural steel connections faster and easier. We welcome your "back of a napkin" ideas that we can then help to develop into a revolutionary concept. 


The Challenge Breakthrough

Can you invent a solution that:

  • Is FAST and EASY to install,
  • Reduces or eliminates welds and/or bolts, or uses them in a different way,
  • Utilizes technology not typically found in construction (3D printing, adhesives, etc.), and
  • Is equal or better in cost compared to current designs and methods?

We are looking for ideas that:

  • Have a high FEASIBILITY factor: "This solution can be implemented easily".
  • Have a high SPEED factor: "This solution will speed up the installation of structural steel beams and columns".
  • Have a high INNOVATION factor: "This solution will forever change how structural steel projects are built".


How to get started:

  • Click Accept Challenge (above) to sign up for the Challenge.
  • Read the Challenge Guidelines to learn about the requirements and rules.
  • Share this challenge on social media using the icons (above).  Show your friends, family, colleagues, or anyone you know who has a passion for innovation--we all put things together in some form or another!
  • Start a conversation in our Forum to join the discussion, ask questions, or connect with the American Institute of Steel Construction and other innovators.



In 1921, a group of steel fabricators set out to unify a fragmented industry that had no universally accepted standards, codes, or practices. They founded the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC). Thanks to their efforts, structural steel became the material that owners, designers, and engineers chose with confidence. 

Over the next 100 years, the country–and the entire world–would undergo unimaginable changes in construction technologies due in no small part to the role of structural steel. Designers and builders reached for the sky and buildings became taller and taller.

As AISC moves into its second century, it’s your turn to make an indelible mark on the steel industry by participating in the Steel SpeedConnection Challenge. (#speedconnection)



The Steel SpeedConnection Challenge offers up to three winners a prize of US $5,000 each for innovative ideas that identify new ways to connect structural steel beams to other steel beams and steel columns. In addition, the winner(s) will be featured in Modern Steel Construction magazine ( and on AISC's social media platforms.



  • Challenge open period: July 30, 2021 thru October 8, 2021
  • Challenge launch date: July 30, 2021
  • Submission deadline: October 8, 2021 @ 5pm PT
  • Judging process: October 11 - November 17, 2021
  • Winner announcement: December 1, 2021


How Do I Win?

To be eligible for an award, your proposal must (at a minimum):

  • Satisfy the judging scorecard requirements.
  • Thoughtfully address the submission form questions.
  • Be scored higher than your competitors!


Judging Criteria


Additional Rules

Awarding prizes

Up to three prizes of US $5,000 each will be awarded to the highest-scoring ideas based on the judging criteria stated in the Challenge Guidelines. A jury of steel industry experts will determine the winner and, in the case of a tie, vote individually.

Participation eligibility

The Steel SpeedConnection Challenge encourages participation from all individuals, regardless of professional or academic affiliation. No specific qualification or expertise in the structural steel industry is required--in fact, we encourage fresh ideas from those who aren't experts! Although we welcome ideas from around the world, submissions must be made in English, and all challenge-related communication will be in English. To be eligible to compete, you must comply with all the terms of the challenge as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement, which will be made available upon registration.

Individual competitors and teams may originate from any country, as long as United States federal sanctions do not prohibit participation (see:

Registration and submissions

Submissions must be made online (only), via upload to the  website, on or before the stated deadlines. No late submissions will be accepted.

Intellectual property

Our goal is to develop the seed of your idea into a game-changing open-source, non-proprietary connection solution. The IP of the winning submission(s) will be transferred to the Challenge Sponsor. 

Additional information

  • By participating in the challenge, each competitor agrees to submit only their original idea.
  • All applications will go through a process of due diligence; any application found to be misrepresentative, plagiarized, or sharing an idea that is not their own will be automatically and immediately disqualified.
  • All ineligible applicants will be automatically removed from the competition with no notice, recourse, or reimbursement.
  • No purchase or payment of any kind is necessary to enter or win the competition.
  • Void wherever restricted or prohibited by law.

Challenge Updates

Winners of the Steel SpeedConnection Challenge!

Nov. 30, 2021, 4:38 p.m. PST by Erin Conaway

The American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) is proud to announce the winner(s) of the Steel SpeedConnection Challenge!


By the close of the project, we received 76 entries. And after a thorough judging process, three winners have been selected: Andrew Dolan's Team (Andrew Dolan, Erica Fischer, Ramon Gilsanz, Daniel Gleave), Matt Eatherton, and Anton Sherevenets.


We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the innovators who participated. There were so many insightful solutions that we are confident many will do great things in the future. Thank you all for helping make this crowdsourcing project a success and contributing to the future of steel construction.


Kind regards,

AISC SpeedConnection Team


Less Than One Week Left to Submit

Oct. 4, 2021, 10:52 a.m. PDT by Erin Conaway

There's less than one week left to submit your solution to the Steel SpeedConnection Challenge!

You're so close. You can do this!  

Remember, the final submission deadline is October 8 at 6 pm Mountain Time (Denver/USA). Submissions received after this time will be not be accepted, so make sure to get yours in as soon as possible. Let us know if you have questions!

Good luck!

2 weeks left!

Sept. 27, 2021, 4:02 p.m. PDT by Erin Conaway

There are only TWO WEEKS left to submit your solution for the Steel SpeedConnection Challenge! We'd hate for you to miss this opportunity because, unfortunately, we are unable to accept late entries. Deadline for entries is October 8 at 6pm MT.


Can't wait to see your great idea!


Best of luck to all!

We are almost halfway through the submission period...

Sept. 1, 2021, 7 a.m. PDT by Erin Conaway

Hello Innovators! Thank you so much for your interest in this challenge. We are almost halfway to the submission deadline. Please let us know if you have any questions or need clarification about anything.

We can't wait to see what the winning solution looks like.

Best of luck to all!