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If, like me, you are caught in the end of the year holiday rush, you may appreciate a brief President’s message. For those of you able to join our Holiday Dinner at Morton’s last week, I expect is was a great evening for you. Those of you who took home a few of the giveaways from CSI, I imagine it was even better. It sure appeared that fun was had by all. As prefaced in my introduction, the evening was about YOU, the members of SEAOSC, and the chance to share with friends and colleagues. I hope that you are creating life long friendships with your fellow Structural Engineers.
As we move toward the end of 2019 and into the New Year of 2020, I’d like the encourage you to resolve to remain actively engaged. There are exciting things happening. One important item on the SEAOC State agenda is to review and update the long-range plan for the organization. I encourage you to share with the Board any ideas you have regarding how the Association can better serve you, your practice, and the profession. Within Southern California, your Board continues to work toward an operational framework which ensures our ability to serve our committees and through them, our members. Just as your ideas will help craft how the State responds over the course of the next few years, I encourage you to let us know how we can better serve our Southern California region.
January will start off the New Year with 10-year Anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake. Our January Dinner and mid-year Safer Cities Education Events will bring together lessons learned from both the Haiti and Chile (February 2010) earthquakes. Be on the look out for notices and registration invites to get the details. February will follow tradition and focus on our Student Scholarship Night and Career Fair, please consider a donation to the SEAOSC Foundation to help fund a scholarship for a deserving student.
As we wrap up 2019, regardless of the Holiday you celebrate, my hope is that your close of the year is blessed with the richness of time spent with family and friends. Cheers!
Ken O'Dell, SE
A month ago, we were facing the scary thought of Halloween, which highlights the barreling speed at which the end of the year is approaching. With the last-minute rush of deadlines to submit before the New Year and, especially pertinent this year, the change of the code cycle to the new 2019 CBC, I hope that you see still a great holiday season before you. I sincerely hope you will begin the December season with your SEAOSC colleagues at our Annual Holiday Gathering and Dinner on the 4th at Morton’s Steak House in Downtown LA.
I was pleased to see many of you at the NCSEA Summit in Anaheim last week. Many of you already know what I continue to be passionate about… our Profession is a noble one, but we can’t do it alone or in a vacuum. For those of you who couldn’t attend or don’t think NCSEA is pertinent to your business or career, be sure to put next year’s summit in Las Vegas on your calendars (November 3-6, 2020). While NCSEA is the National Council for SEAs, there is a wealth of information available to the individual practitioner at the summit. Think of it as the SEAOC Convention on a national stage.
Three important take-aways struck me from the Summit. First, the recently reconfirmed MOU between CASE, ASCE-SEI and NCSEA continues the commitment between groups to better organize and coordinate our collective efforts in building a stronger profession while avoiding unnecessary duplication of efforts. Second, SEAOSC is leading the way with initiatives focused on getting our members to “stop talking to ourselves” and instead getting engaged with outside stakeholders. Third, and finally, an association is built on the strength of its volunteers. Unfortunately, a common frame of mind is “there is an Association to do that”. What we miss with this thought is that we, you and I, are that Association; whether locally in Southern California, at the state SEAOC level, or on the national NCSEA stage, the volunteer members are the Association. Hmmm… this must be my not so subtly contrived call for each of you to be engaged.
With Thanksgiving now just around the corner, it seems appropriate that I close this message with a note of Thanks. Thank you to the numerous sponsors who provide extra financial support of the Association! Thank you to our Committee members who take extra time out of their days (and nights) to push our profession ever forward! Thank you to our Executive Director and her staff who keep us functioning. Finally, thank you ... to each of you for your continued support and engagement with SEAOSC and all you do to provide Safer Buildings through Structural Engineering.
I look forward to seeing you on December 4th at Morton’s.
When you take on the role of President of any Association you are often handed some big initiatives to move forward and an opportunity to help craft the direction the organization will take in the future. SEAOSC is no different. Over the past few years, several members of the past and the current board have worked to build opportunities for local university students to be engaged more directly with the Association through University based student chapters. While this remains a fledgling endeavor, I’m pleased to share that progress is being made. With renewals picking back up after the beginning of the academic calendar, we have over 250 student members active in the Association through their on-campus chapters. I’m also excited that another 70 plus members will be joining our ranks as we strengthen our relationship with UCLA students. In partnering with the student chapter at UCLA, to create an expanded opportunity for the students, EERI-SEAOSC at UCLA will bring together the researchers and practitioners and ensure engagement of young members as they transition through their academic curriculum and into the industry, hopefully into the offices of structural engineering firms throughout Southern California.
This is an incredibly important step that I encourage our firms and members to embrace and support. We will continue to seek ways to create robust opportunities to bring together our entire membership. These efforts will be focused on building life-long relationships with our peers. Student and young members are the future of our profession and this Association - be sure you don’t miss the chance to interact and help nurture the future direction of the Association.
I am also excited to announce that our Committee Showcase in September resulted in the reinvigoration of our Sustainability/Resilience Committee with a new Chair volunteering to step in. Additionally, our new Concrete and Wood Committees have been kicked-off with several members seeking to be part of their inaugural launch…we hope to schedule first meetings between now and early November. Don’t forget every member of SEAOSC is invited to be a part of the conversation through our committees. I encourage you to not wait to ask Why? Instead be part of the conversation that helps Frame Why! Your professional growth and the growth of the association can only be stronger by your involvement. Be sure to check out the SEAOSC website and Committee page (https://seaosc.org/SEAOSC-Committees) to get connected.
This next week the Association continues to bring good content and engagement to our members and the community. On October 24th we host our annual Safer Cities Policy Breakfast in downtown LA with invitations to the District Directors from the offices of our local California State legislative members. The breakfast will engage these individuals in roundtable conversations regarding opportunities for SEAOSC and our members to support our communities with statewide initiatives. These conversations continue endeavors initiated 8 or so years ago with our first Buildings at Risk Summit. Over the years these conversations have directly resulted in Cities in southern California seeking guidance from SEAOSC to help craft and adopt important seismic safety ordinances. Also, on the 24th, we will host our first-of-the year Tri-Counties Dinner meeting in Santa Barbara with discussion regarding the recently released SEAOC Blue Book.
Let me wrap this up with two last opportunities to engage… October 17th is the 30th Anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. SEAOSC is hosting a Webinar on lessons learned for horizontal diaphragms. Be sure to register soon, it will come and be gone quickly. AND… Don’t forget to participate in the Great Shakeout Earthquake Drill…held this year on the actual Anniversary of the Loma Prieta Earthquake. Register to participate at https://www.shakeout.org/ and be ready to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” at 10:17am on 10/17.
September traditionally begins the “new year” for SEAOSC with members returning from summer activities to our Committee Showcase and Welcome Dinner. As always, this year the event provided the opportunity for members to re-engage with committees while enjoying happy hour reconnecting with colleagues. This year was also unique with the State Convention occurring before our September meeting. The Central California team presented a great event in a great location. With these two event happening so close together I wanted to share a few thoughts.
First and foremost; congratulations again to Janah Risha and Peter Maranian, SEAOSC’s two nominees who were inducted as part of the SEAOC College of Fellows Class of 2019. Both exemplify the passion and commitment for our profession to which we should all aspire. The convention in Squaw Valley provided an incredible opportunity to enjoy a great location while learning new things at the technical sessions and beginning new or renewing old friendships. This is the heart and soul of SEAOSC and SEAOC. Having attended my first convention in 1990, I can confirm that they are one of the best ways to stay involved and in touch with what is happening in our profession. In fact, it is through friendships forged at conventions that brings me to be typing this message. If you haven’t been before (and even if you have) I encourage you to find the opportunity to get to a SEAOC convention; and what better location than next year’s event in Maui from September 9-12, 2019. Get it on your calendar, I know my wife and daughter already have it on theirs!
A little closer to home, our September Welcome Event helped kick-off our program year. Thank you to our Education Committee for putting it together and Diana Nishi for moderating a great discussion regarding the Ridgecrest/Searles Valley Earthquake Sequence. Also, to the 100-plus members who attended, thank you for participating. Hopefully you had a chance to meet fellow members and speak with some of your colleagues who have stepped up to lead the profession forward through their participation in critical activates the committees are charged with. Whether it is the Education Committee bringing content to the Education events, the technical committees advancing current and new design practices and engaging with public officials, or the Communications and Membership Committees building connections within and external to the association, these activities are crucial to the relevancy of SEAOSC and our ability to engage on a broad platform. If you haven’t done so, seek out a committee and find a way to increase your engagement with the profession, you won’t be disappointed.
As we move into the fall season and, dare I say, the rush of the end of the year, I find it empowering to remember how our work impacts the lives of everyone who uses one of our structures. Quite the achievement when you think of just how many people that is. I’m truly blessed to be able to count each of you as a colleague. Thank you for all you do to provide Safer Buildings through Structural Engineering.
Well, I think it is fair to say that my first two-weeks serving as President of SEAOSC were eventful. Day 4 there is an earthquake, Day 5 there is a bigger one, Days 6-9 are a whirlwind, culminating in the first Board meeting for FY 2019-2020. In this board meeting we affirmed that there are great things ahead for the association. The board approved an aggressive budget focused on providing critical content and connections for our members, partners and community stake holders. Your Board also approved a forward looking calendar, that will be published shortly to allow you to plan for these events with as much advanced notice as possible. Our Education Committee is already preparing this year’s program.
To wrap up the whirlwind, I’m on an extended vacation to celebrate my daughter’s promotion from middle school to high school. We are traveling through France for several weeks, and I can tell already that the theme for our trip will be to recognize that with great history comes inevitable change. Paris provides a great reminder that modern mixes with historic quite well. Our next stop in Normandy highlighted how great things can be accomplished when people come together with a common goal. This year is the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, a historic day that not only brought nations together but also taught us that to succeed you must be engaged…there can be no sitting on the sidelines waiting for others to get the job done. And with a bit of humor… the Loire Valley teaches us that with a bit of wine, engaged people can be quite vocal and fun to share ideas with.
Enough of the travel log and history lesson. It just struck me how thoughts can be brought full circle no matter the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Last year, Mehran spoke of change to ensure SEAOSC and our profession maintain relevance in service to our members and our communities. This is an ongoing process of asking hard questions of ourselves and making appropriate changes when the answers suggest different approaches may provide better results.
This year, I hope the Board can help instill a desire within each of you to be engaged in your profession…not just your career. The profession of structural engineering is far too important to our communities for us to be content focusing on our daily work tasks… I propose that we each must look for the opportunity to use and share the knowledge gained from our daily tasks; perhaps that is by sharing your knowledge through committee participation, supporting a scholarship for, or mentoring our next generation of emerging leaders, or simply being better prepared to share why and how structural engineering is important with your clients.
A few first steps:
As we begin a new year under the 2020 banner please look for a way to be engaged…the Association and Profession needs each of you.
Mehran Pourzanjani, SE
Culmination of Culture of Change: Relevancy of SEAOSC
June marks the last month of the SEAOSC calendar. The year has sailed by faster than expected. It has been a privilege and honor to serve as SEAOSC‘s 90th President. I am particularly proud to be part of the association’s a rich heritage, history, and traditions. In these dynamic times communities and cultures are changing at an unprecedented increasing rate. To survive associations must remain relevant. This realization has driven our vision and activities over the past year. An association must continually be changing, adapting and modernizing at an ever faster pace to remain relevant. This year our motto has been to question every tradition and way with SEAOSC in favor of a new refreshed approach. I am pleased to report that with the support of the Executive Committee, the board, and you the members, we have managed daring transformations in the Association which will continue to serve future generations of SEAOSC. In the process we have managed to instill a culture of change and adaptability in the Association. It is only through our collective efforts, beliefs, and volunteerism that we can continue to transform and modernize. What follows is a recap of some of the major events and transformations we managed together over the course of last year.
SEAOSC 2018-2019 Transformations:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Executive Committee members, President Elect Ken O’ Dell of MHP Structural Engineers, Treasure Matt Bernard of Degenkolb Engineers, and Past President Bob Lyons of Risha Engineering for embracing the vision of change for the Association, owning it and expressing a willingness to continue with it. The current board has been tremendous in brainstorming and supporting changes and in the development of the “Disaster Response Plan”. Thank you Donny Harris SE, John Labib and Associates, Garrett Mill,SE, Taylor & Syfan Consulting Engineers, Massoud Abolhoda, SE, Santa Barbara County Planning & Development, Patti Harburg-Petrich, SE, BurroHappold Engineering, Annie Koa,PE, Simpson Strong-Tie, Truong Huynh , PE, City of Long Beach, Bryan Seamer, SE, LPA, and Wayne Chang SE, Structural Focus .
I would also like to thank all the committee chairs and members for their service and dedication to SEAOSC and for advancing various missions and causes. The committees are the spine of the Association without which we could not exist.
Welcome New Board Members:
Welcome new board members; Treasurer Kelsey Anne Parolini, PE, SSG Structural Engineers, Henry Burton, PhD., SE, University of California, Los Angeles, Kim Caravalho SE, Brandow & Johnston, Victor Cuevas, PE, Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, Tom Harris, SE, California Code Check. I encourage you all to initiate and support more changes to the association during your tenure.
Up Coming Events:
The “President’s Luncheon and Achievement Awards”, a new event this year, will be held on June 19th at the LA Grand Hotel. This event will be devoted to recognizing and celebrating SEAOSC’s members that have distinguished themselves in various capacities; the Engineer of the year, and will include the transition of the Presidential gavel to incoming president Ken O’ Dell. We hope that you will attend this luncheon to celebrate and recognize our distinguished colleagues and their accomplishments and welcome the new President. The yearend technical summit will also be held in the morning at the same location. The summit will be a multi-track event providing interest based choices for the attendees. You can find out more about these events on the website.
The Safer Cities Gala and President’s Dinner will of course be held on June 5st. at the Biltmore. This event will feature “Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards” (EISE) and will include a New “Safer Cities” awards category. This award will recognize leaders in the industry, or public arena that have made outstanding contributions towards Safer Cities or the advancement of the industry. The gala is emceed by ABC 7 Anchor David Ono. We are anticipating a broad representation from the industry at the event including various city representatives and officials. I hope to see you and your guests there. You are able to register at the door if you have not yet done so.
Congratulations to all the Awardees in advance!
I envision an Association that is relevant, active, modern and embracing of change. An Association that strongly advocates for our profession, serves the needs of our members, the wants of our communities with the built environment, and advances the science of Earthquake Design. I believe we are collectively achieving this vision; but we need to continue to work and push together. It is important to appreciate the 90 year history of the Association and how it has grown to afford us the dream of bigger goals today. It has been on the backs of the countless active members, board members, and past Presidents who dedicated time and effort to serve the Association for the benefit all that we have succeeded. So, in the spirit of this noble tradition of service I call on you to please get involved and support the Association in future endeavors, give back to your profession and future generations of earthquake engineers. Let’s make a bigger impact together!
Thank you for your support. It has been my honor and privilege to serve as your President for 2018-2019.
SEAOSC: New Awards and Events
Traditionally, the yearend President’s Dinner has included different award recognitions and the transition of the Presidential gavel. The Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards recognizes outstanding projects that are unique and innovative. The various individual awards recognize the contributions and accomplishments of SEAOSC members that have gone above and beyond the call of duty in giving to the association and the profession. This year we will be expanding our awards program by starting a new tradition with a change in the format of our President’s Dinner and year end events. The new Safer Cities Gala and President’s Dinner will feature the “Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards” and the “Safer Cities Awards” which will recognize leaders in the industry, or public arena that have made outstanding contributions towards Safer Cities or the advancement of the industry. This new format will provide an opportunity to broaden the scope of the event by inviting architects, contractors, owners, policy makers, and building officials to celebrate the recognition of a colleague or share in the award for a project that they participated in. The long term vision for the President’s Safer Cities Gala is to build it into a premier industry event with an expanded scope of attendees. Members are encouraged to invite industry associates to celebrate their award winning projects and share in their accomplishments as part of a team. We will be hosting the Safer Cities Gala and President’s Dinner at Biltmore’s Gold Room. This year ABC 7 Anchor David Ono will serve as the emcee.
There will also be a President’s Luncheon and Achievement Awards this year which will be devoted to recognizing and celebrating SEAOSC’s members that have distinguished themselves in various capacities, the Engineer of the year, and include the transition of the Presidential gavel to incoming President Ken O’ Dell. This event will be held on June 19th at the LA Grand Hotel. We hope that you will attend this luncheon to celebrate and recognize our distinguished colleagues and their accomplishments, and welcome the incoming SEAOSC President, Ken O’ Dell. The yearend technical summit will be held earlier in the morning at the same location and will include the luncheon at a discounted rate. The summit will be a multi-track event providing interest based choices for the attendees.
The Women in Structural Engineering Committee is presenting a Leadership Symposium on May 8th at the Biltmore. This event is generously sponsored by CSI. This full day event is focused on leadership and soft skill topics, tools for success in any field. The details for the symposium are on our website.
On Saturday May 4th we will hold our member appreciation event, a walking food tour of Historical Downtown LA for members. The tour will emphasize the history and architecture of LA buildings and is integrated with a Cinco de Mayo theme which includes food stops along the way. You can find out more about this tour on our website.
The OC Dinner event will be held on Wednesday May 22, please visit the website for more information.
Suffice to say that May and June will be busy months for SEAOSC! Please invite your industry friends, architects, owners, and contractors to these events; particularly to the President’s Safer Cities Gala that will recognize industry leaders of the year and Excellence in Structural Engineering. We look forward to seeing you at the upcoming events!
Lastly, it is with great sorrow that I share news of the passing of SEAOSC Past President Brian L. Cochran (1999-2000). Brian passed away from complications due to surgery. Condolences to his son, Past President Michael L. Cochran (2009-2010), and the Cochran family.
SEAOSC Has An Investment Plan
I am pleased to announce that SEAOSC has started an Investment plan! The purpose for the investment plan is primarily to build-up reserves to ensure financial viability of the association during the lean years. Beyond that, the vision for the investment plan is to grow the reserves optimally to finance further association activities including membership benefits from the proceeds. The activities and the benefits can include research, scholarships, advocacy for the profession, public service announcements, outreach programs, and community support programs in the event of catastrophic occurrences.
The investment plan was inspired by my experience as a member of the “SEAOSC of the future” Ad Hoc committee in 2011. At that juncture the association was recovering from the recession and struggling on many fronts, including financially. The Ad Hoc committee was tasked with the mission of devising a plan for the viability of the association. The “futurists” as the five members of the Ad Hoc committee were called, developed a “Vision and Mission” for a viable SEAOSC into the future. This “Vision and Mission” is featured on the SEAOSC website under the “About SEAOSC” tab should you be interested in learning more about it. The most challenging aspect of the plan was directing SEAOSC back to financial stability which involved many difficult decisions. That experience served as the inspiration for the development and implementation of the investment plan to ensure the viability of the association through challenging times.
A key factor for the success of the investment plan will be to build up the reserves over time; particularly when the economy is healthy. This requires discipline and commitment; tapping into the plan must be resisted unless absolutely necessary. It is my hope to instill this discipline and culture in the association with a focus on the vision for the plan. As the last of the “futurists” to serve as president; my aspiration is to insure proper resources are available for the future generations of SEAOSC leaders so they can realize their vision for the betterment of the association.
I look forward to seeing you at the next dinner event on April 3rd.
Inspiring the next generation
In February SEAOSC hosted the annual scholarship and career fair night. It was an opportunity for us to meet and recognize the next generation of earthquake engineers, and reward those who have achieved scholastic excellence with scholarships. It is important that students strive for excellence as they embark onto their careers. The candidates for scholarships are selected and recommended by the SEAOSC Younger Member Committee, co-chaired by Michael Daciolas and Cheng Song. The scholarships are awarded by SEAOSC foundation, chaired by-Past President Kevin O’ Connell and the funding is by firms and individuals. This year the SEAOSC Foundation had a significant donation by CSI Inc. Nine $1,500 scholarships and one $2,000 David and Margaret Narver Memorial Scholarship were awarded to 10 students. The students represented various universities in Southern California. Congratulations to all the scholarship recipients!
I was delighted to see many friends and colleagues representing over 14 different Structural Engineering firms at the event discussing career opportunities with the students and inspiring them. I hope that all of us in the Structural Engineering community can appreciate our responsibility and role in cultivating future generations in our profession. This starts with the students in our institutions pursuing state-of-the-art academic knowledge; however, they also require mentoring, fostering and inspiration towards a future in the profession. This is particularly important now as the profession faces more alluring competition for the students from other engineering studies. The career fair provided the opportunity to offer internship positions for the students to experience the profession first hand. This is a win-win proposition as students experience on the job training and the gratification of experiencing a building form shape from drawings to reality, while a firm is able to evaluate and invest in a potential future candidate. I hope most of you will consider offering internship opportunities to students in this spirit.
Lastly, we also celebrated the 90th Birthday of SEAOSC at the event by ceremoniously blowing out candles on a cake featuring our new logo. This was a celebration of the vision, dedication and volunteerism of the twelve Structural Engineers that started the Association in February 1929 and that of SEAOSC members, and officers who have since served the association.
I look forward to seeing you all at the next dinner event on March 6th.
In last month’s Presidents message SEAOSC was declared as the oldest Structural engineering Association in the world, based on the history reflected on the Associations website. Peter Maranian S.E. was kind enough to bring to our attention the existence of a group in the United Kingdom who in 1922 renamed themselves “Institution of Structural Engineers”. The group consisted of various building industry factions including engineers, architects, chemist, manufactures and surveyors. The Institution received its Royal Charter in 1934. Established in 1929, SEAOSC remains as one of the oldest Structural Engineers Associations in the world with the distinction that it was created by and for Structural Engineers exclusively.
The association was formed at a meeting at the University Club in Los Angeles on February 20, 1929. The founding members were a group of 12 structural engineering consultants; two of whom were also architects and one was a professor at the California Institute of Technology. You can read more about the history of SEAOSC on our website. As I was scrolling through the names of the 89 Presidents that have served since the inception of SEAOSC, I could not help but to reflect on our history and rich heritage. Many of the presidents, board members, and members of SEAOSC are well known today for their contributions to the science of earthquake engineering. SEAOSC is the only structural engineering association in the world that can showcase such a long history and rich heritage as we are oldest structural engineering association in the world.
As we celebrate this anniversary it is important to appreciate that the association was built on the foundation of volunteerism with its members, committee participants, officers and board members, donating time and effort for the good of the group and for future generations. Now, it is our generation’s turn to carry the torch and give back to the profession, our communities, and the future Earthquake Engineers. I invite you to get involved and join us on this important mission.
In honor of our 90th year we are delighted to present an updated image for the Association. Specifically, the SEAOSC and strengthening of our cities logos have been updated and a new color palate has been adopted for the association as reflected on this newsletter and on our website. The updated logo and the new colors celebrate the vibrancy of the modern SEAOSC while honoring the rich heritage of the Association and representing the Golden State of California from which we hail. There are two versions of the logo, one with a tag line that will be used for occasions when our expertise as Earthquake Engineers will need to be highlighted and emphasized, and the other without the tag line. We hope that you find these updates pleasing.
The strengthening of our cities technical summit that was held on January 19th was a success, with 125 attending, as was the Orange County Dinner event held on January 22nd. The Annual Career Fair & Student Scholarships Awards Night will be held on February 6th. SEAOSC Foundation will be awarding grants to students pursuing a degree in Civil and Architectural engineering. There is also an opportunity for companies to showcase career opportunities at their firms to potential candidates. I encourage you to join us.
Happy Birthday SEAOSC! We look forward to seeing you at February dinner event!
Mehran Pourzanjani, SE
437 S. Cataract Ave., #4-B
San Dimas, CA 91773
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