Date of Thesis


Thesis Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Ronald Ziemian


The purpose of this research project is to study an innovative method for the stability assessment of structural steel systems, namely the Modified Direct Analysis Method (MDM). This method is intended to simplify an existing design method, the Direct Analysis Method (DM), by assuming a sophisticated second-order elastic structural analysis will be employed that can account for member and system instability, and thereby allow the design process to be reduced to confirming the capacity of member cross-sections. This last check can be easily completed by substituting an effective length of KL = 0 into existing member design equations. This simplification will be particularly useful for structural systems in which it is not clear how to define the member slenderness L/r when the laterally unbraced length L is not apparent, such as arches and the compression chord of an unbraced truss. To study the feasibility and accuracy of this new method, a set of 12 benchmark steel structural systems previously designed and analyzed by former Bucknell graduate student Jose Martinez-Garcia and a single column were modeled and analyzed using the nonlinear structural analysis software MASTAN2. A series of Matlab-based programs were prepared by the author to provide the code checking requirements for investigating the MDM. By comparing MDM and DM results against the more advanced distributed plasticity analysis results, it is concluded that the stability of structural systems can be adequately assessed in most cases using MDM, and that MDM often appears to be a more accurate but less conservative method in assessing stability.