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President's Message

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  • September 21, 2020 1:09 PM | SEAOSC Admin (Administrator)

    Matthew Barnard, S.E. 
    SEAOSC President

    If you had any doubt about how SEAOSC and our members are making a difference, those doubts must be gone after the wonderful celebration of our fellow SEAOSC members and our Community partners on Sept. 2nd. What an evening! Thank you to all who joined our celebration of our 2020 Safer Cities Awards and our 2020 Excellence in Structural Engineering (EISE) Awards! Congratulations to all our awardees including our Safer Cities Awardees of ICC, Cynthia Zabala of West Hollywood, the City of Beverly Hills. Congratulations to our EiSE Award winners. See the announcement in this newsletter and on our social media accounts for which projects were celebrated.

    Huge special thank you to Optimum Seismic for their support that made the videos possible and to Patti, Kelsey, Ken, and Co-Pilots for your tireless efforts in pulling this event together.

    With it already being mid-Sept, SEASOC Program Year has already begun. Our Committees have started working on their goals for the year. To realize those goals though, they need help. They need you!

    • Our Diversity & Inclusion Committee is embarking on an ambitious agenda. Join Lorena and team and help us transform our Association and our Industry. This effort is critical to our future.
    • Women in Structural Engineering (WiSE) is preparing for multiple events including our Feb. Summit on personal mastery and other keys to personal and professional success.
    • Do you feel that we can improve our Communications, websites, graphics so we better share all the great work and insights by SEAOSC Members? Join our Communications Committee.
    • Want to maximize the benefit of SEAOSC Membership? Join the Membership Committee.
    • Under 35? Interested in shaping your Association while getting to know your fellow members who are also early in their careers? Join our Young Members Committee for fun times, engagement with our Student Chapters, and much more.
    • Passionate about our Professional Development and our events that build our SEAOSC Committee? Our Education Committee needs you.
    • Our Existing Building Committee (EBC) continues to move forward on numerous initiatives improving how we evaluate and retrofit existing structures. One of our more active Committees, EBC is always looking for passionate members willing to move forward technical concepts.
    • Interested in exploring how ramps should be considered in parking structures or about fire, tsunami, wind, or other hazards impact structural design? Seismology & Hazards need you to help develop these topics.
    • Do you have a passion for Concrete, Steel, or Wood? If so, we have Committees that need your talent and passion. Each Committee is actively moving forward on key initiatives.
    • If preparing for the next big earthquake drives you, our Disaster & Emergency Services Committee needs your help.
    • Sustainability and Resilience is just getting re-energized (pun very much intended). Help us bring a focus on sustainable and resilient practices in Southern California.
    • Codes & Standards is already preparing to review and comment on upcoming code proposals.

    For all these amazing Committees to realize their goals, we need you, your friends, and your co-workers to renew your membership. If you know individuals in our industry who should be members, invite them to join. Let our Association Manager ( know their name and email address and we will do the reach out for you.

    This Association is dependent on your support and the support of our friends and partners of this Association. SEAOSC is pleased to announce the release of our 2020 Sponsorship Program. This program has something for everyone including those partners whose support sustains this Association and the firms who support both their employees membership and participation in this Association. If you know someone who should be a sponsor, let our Association Manager ( know their name and email address and we will do the reach out for you.

    On behalf of the SEAOSC Board, thank you for your support of the SEAOSC Community. We are excited to see what we will all accomplish in 2020/2021 together.

  • August 17, 2020 11:41 AM | SEAOSC Admin (Administrator)

    Matthew Barnard, S.E. 
    SEAOSC President

    2020 is truly shaping up to be a year like no other. While there are unique challenges and uncertainty to this year, I am excited about the opportunity for the SEAOSC Community to come together and to make a difference. I hope you are too.

    Over the summer, our Board made a fantastic commitment to a set of initiatives for 2020/2021. Today I would like to highlight two of those initiatives.

    1. Women in Structural Engineering (WiSE): One of our most active committees is WiSE. While providing a supportive community for many of our members, WiSE has been crucial in bringing the human side of our industry to the Association. We are excited that we will be having our next Personal Mastery Summit on Feb. 24. Huge thank you to the team from WiSE that is inspiring and shaping this event that will benefit of all. Over the summer, WiSE has also been exploring what is next for WiSE. This strategic planning effort is intended to help us make sure that WiSE remains a strong part of the SEAOSC community.
    2. Diversity & Inclusion (D&I): Following our June 26th event, a group of us stayed on the call and started talking about what SEAOSC can do now and in future to enhance our Diversity and Inclusivity. When we look in the mirror, the reality is that we can do better. Where are our black engineers? Why so few females on our technical committees? How do we keep all generations involved including getting the young members actively engaged throughout the organization? How are we supporting our LGBTQ+ members? Our friend Lorena Arce has stepped up to chair the SEAOSC D&I effort. Join the team. Lorena and team have been meeting weekly setting up the framework of the Initiative. Watch our social media feeds and this newsletter for opportunities to get involved and enhance the SEAOSC community.

    Get involved and support WiSE and D&I however you can. Your insights and help are needed.

    With all our program events and meetings being virtual at least until 2021, it has never been easier to get involved. No longer do you need to fight SoCal traffic. No longer do you have to travel long distances. We are simply a click away through our Zoom and GoToMeetings. To help you get SEAOSC on your calendar, visit the SEAOSC events page. We are posting all our events for the Program Year including an increased number of webinars. We also have adjusted our calendar to accommodate the SEAOC Convention being virtual the first week of December and the NCSEA Convention being virtual in November.

    Our next event is a big one. On September 2nd, we will have our 2020 Awards Gala featuring the 2020 Safer Cities Awards and our 2020 Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards. This is a free event and registration is now open. Join us in celebrating some amazing structural and seismic engineering that has greatly improved our communities.  We will even have a virtual Committee showcase before the event through Zoom breakouts where you can find out what is next for 2020 and how you could make a difference that might have you being celebrated next year!

    For the Association to support our community, we need your help. Renew your memberships. Encourage your co-workers and friends to renew or join. If your firm leadership could use a nudge to support your involvement in the Association, please send me a note at Our Association is only stronger with all of us together.

  • June 17, 2020 7:14 PM | SEAOSC Admin (Administrator)

    Ken O'Dell, SE

    President’s Message June 2020

    Over the past 12 months I have been enriched by the privilege of being the President of the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California. I have had the honor of working with an incredible team of passionate fellow engineers on the Board of Directors who desire to see our profession grow. I have had the honor of working with numerous committee Chairs and members in their endeavors to foment ideas that instill the value of structural engineers within the association and the surrounding communities. I have had the honor of working with a dedicated team from our Association Management office. I have had the opportunity to greet and speak with numerous sponsors and contributors without whom the association would be a lesser version of itself. Finally, I have had the privilege of meeting and sharing ideas with students as they seek a role in helping define the future of the structural engineering profession. To all of you, I say Thank You!

    As I contemplate this past year, my mind runs to the list of accomplishments that prove incredible work was done and that the value of your membership has been protected. However, I believe it may be more impactful to reflect on the things we have yet to achieve.

    A year ago, this week, I outlined goals focused on increasing the engagement of our association with the community and with each other. I am pleased to share that we have built upon our relationships with local agencies and policy makers; however, we still struggle to bring more of you, our members to the table, whether that be the dinner table or committee table. I strongly believe this association can do better, and I again ask each of you to find your place to play an integral part in advancing SEAOSC and our profession.

    This past year we have solidified relationships with several local Colleges and Universities to build bridges and create continuity for new graduates to transition into the profession with relationships already established. As we strengthen these ties in the coming years, I encourage you to be engaged with the student chapters and be a mentor to the incredible next generation of structural engineers.

    As the future of structural engineering responds to increased client demands and expectations, unimaginable opportunities will develop to push us into better designs with new materials and enhanced performance outcomes. However, this happens only when we participate and help frame the conversation. Our committees are on the forefront of these efforts, and they have accomplished great things, but we can do better. Currently our committees are made up of a very small segment of our membership. We suffer from the a few classic rules:

    The 80-20 rule:  80% of the work is accomplished by 20% of the people
    The Room rule:  100% of the work is accomplished by the people “in the room”.
    And the 0-rule:   When not in the room, we have ZERO impact on the future of the Profession.

    I have had the privilege of working with great people, but in each of these endeavors it has been clear; we could be doing so much more, if only more of our incredibly talented members became engaged participants. The committees eagerly anticipate your engagement; I encourage you to join the conversation and be enriched by the depth of the relationships you will build.

    As we look back on the past few months, we realize that the Great Pandemic of 2020 will help reshape our industry, both in the economic short-term and in the long-term re-structured delivery of services. We will find tools to be more productive, but I cannot emphasis enough the power of the collaborative spirit of people. Technology tools are fantastic, but they are not in and of themselves solutions. Solutions come from people sharing ideas and reaching common goals, together, in the same room.

    Finally, these past several weeks have caused many to reassess their role in instigating change within our profession and society. It is my hope the Call to Action put forth by NCSEA/CASE/SEI and SEAOC will prompt important conversations in our firms and communities. But most important, the Call requires Action. This action will require our engagement in seeking and developing holistic solutions that put weight and meaning behind the words. I encourage and remind each of us, that the work is done by those in the room. To properly honor Mr. Floyd and all those who have suffered at the hand or by the action or inaction of others, this work requires ALL of us to be in the room.

    As I close my last President’s message, I simply encourage us to live our profession with the same excitement we had when we entered it. Regardless of the number of years it has been, we chose a noble profession, or perhaps it chose us. Even in periods of turmoil, devastation, and prosperity this has been and will remain a noble profession. A profession made better by the contribution of each individual and made stronger when those individuals join in collaboration and service.

    Thank you for the privilege and honor to have been in your service.

    Kenneth O’Dell, SE
    2019-2020 SEAOSC President

  • May 20, 2020 7:34 AM | SEAOSC Admin (Administrator)

    Ken O'Dell, SE

    President’s Message May 2020

    We are Engineers. In numerous meetings, I have participated in discussions regarding what this means and why it is important to express it consistently and concisely. As our structural engineering profession is impacted by many internal and external changes, it is incumbent on each of us and the Association to individually and collectively define the importance of “the structural engineer”.  

    In his book “To Engineer is Human”, Henry Petroski argues “the ideas of engineering are in our bones and part of our human nature and experience”. John Browne begins his premise in “Make, Think, Imagine: Engineering the Future of Civilization” with the idea that we all have “a deep-seated urge to improve our lives driven by an innate human instinct… we want to make things and shape the world around us”. In other words, there is an Engineer in each of us.

    And yet, even with this innate desire and driving need to build or create from our “Inner Engineer”, Petroski highlights that “the essence of what engineering is and what engineers do is not common knowledge”. He theorizes this “is so in part because engineering as a human endeavor is not yet integrated into our culture and intellectual tradition”. However, rather than having “yet to occur” or not “being common knowledge”; I suggest society as a whole, has instead lost touch with the inner engineer; integration has already occurred, we just forgot about it.

    If the desire to engineer is embedded in each of us, it should follow that the human nature of engineering would naturally be integrated into our culture and tradition. If there is an Engineer in each of us, why isn’t the essence of what engineering is and what we do more commonly understood? Perhaps this is because the essence is so well integrated that we take it for granted. Just as we take for granted that the doctor will properly diagnose our ills, that  our toast will pop up in the morning or that our lattes will be hot without asking; we take for granted that Engineers will do what is needed, so “we don’t have to think about it”.

    Many acting or aspiring structural engineers, began our design careers with toys that resembled building blocks. Some are fortunate to experience the interlocking nature of Legos, while others may have used basic materials stacked one upon the other. If siblings or friends were involved the challenge became who could build faster and taller, and then who could knock down the others while protecting their own. Thus, we learned early on the basic principles of balance, eccentric vs. concentric loads, foundation support, and slenderness and stability. If our blocks were large enough or our feet small enough, we probably conducted our first vertical load test, and when fighting off a sister or brother we certainly learned about horizontal loads. Having watched my daughter work through these same problems with her toy blocks, it is my belief that the Inner Engineer knows no gender limitation.

    So, if we all start here, where does the inner engineer go? As we grow up, we try many things, and may be nurtured or self-driven toward an area of focus. Along the way we begin to see that others take different roles. Through this process we build into our cultural traditions, a reliance on others. It is this reliance that builds the community and society we live within; and it is this reliance on others that offers the greatest “next step” for structural engineers.

    Today, our building codes, especially those sections regarding extreme design events such as earthquakes, assume a level of damage can occur. We seek to explain this as being a “Life-Safe” minimum design basis. However, there is no set guarantee when designing to code prescribed minimums, that occupants will ever get back into their buildings, without potentially significant cost and energy restoring the structure to its pre-event condition.

    Unfortunately, this is one of those disconnects between the Structural Engineer and the public they serve. Professor Keith Porter (University of Colorado, Boulder) has identified a gap between the expectations of the public and that of the designer when applying code minimum standards. The common occupant and building user, as they set aside their own inner engineer, relies on others and takes for granted that the Code minimum is “good enough”. Yet practicing engineers and professionals in the building community know that the standard is just a minimum.

    This begs the question… “what is good enough?” Following several earthquakes, where I have visited damaged sites and spoken with displaced individuals and families, it was apparent that even though they were able to get out of their buildings, this was not good enough. People wanted to know when they could get back into to their homes and businesses.

    This is a foremost challenge and opportunity for Engineers of the 21st Century, but we must be willing to question our current design approach.

    • Are we serving our clients and their clients, the general public, appropriately if we accept responsibility for providing a good enough, code minimum design?
    • Or, must we engage in a conversation, either with our clients or with our communities, regarding a design standard that is greater than Life-Safe?
    • Should a standard integrating performance-based design practice, not as a cost-saving measure, but as a performance-providing approach be implemented as a new minimum?
    • For the past couple months, we have relied on our homes to Shelter-in-Place or be Safer-at-Home. Without even thinking about it, we took for granted that our homes would be, if not useful, at least available for our Work-from-Home needs. How will our response change when the very homes we take for granted are not available?

    These are questions that are being pursued today by leaders of the profession and need to be pursued by all practicing engineers. I encourage you to ponder these same questions and then share your ideas. The Association and profession will be richer for it. 

  • April 01, 2020 1:07 PM | SEAOSC Admin (Administrator)

    Ken O'Dell, SE

    President’s Message April 2020

    As I contemplate the last few weeks and the SEAOSC weekly updates issued as we transitioned to remote Work-from-Home satellite offices, I’m struck by the word “transition”. My Webster’s New College Dictionary defines transition as “an act, process, or instance of changing from one state, form activity, or place to another”. However, instead of focusing on the changes we just underwent to reshape how we conduct business and interact with our families, I thought I would look to the transition of the seasons that April and May bring to California.

    Growing up, my family looked to Spring as a time of renewal. Each spring, my father would hitch a trailer to the back of the family station wagon and the seven of us, Mom, Dad, my 4 siblings, and I would pile in and head off to the local nursery. There, each of us picked out a plant that would become ours to care for throughout the year. Inevitably, most of my plants died off in the early years as many other activities distracted me from watering them through the hot Livermore summers. However, each year, Dad would hook up the trailer and we’d do it all over again.

    Finally, as I grew up, my plants started to survive as I learned that renewal wasn’t automatic but required constant care and nurturing. My plants needed to be watered in the summer, pruned in the fall, protected from frost in the winter and if everything went well, they would bloom new again in the spring. Up until he passed away, the yearly nursery trip was something that Dad looked forward to, and back we would go to the same local nursery to pick a new next plant for the cacophony that was to be O’Dell landscaping.

    So, what does Ken’s trip through nostalgia mean to SEAOSC members? It strikes me now that Dad was teaching great life lessons; if you don’t take care to nurture the simple things, taking care of the big ones will be even more difficult. As we all sit in remote locations, it is important to remember to reach out to each other and connect for that personal touch. This is the touch we miss by not being in a common office space, sitting around the breakroom table, or saying the quick hello in the hallway…“how was your weekend?” When we are remote, our conversations tend to focus on how is the project doing, is the system working for you, are you being efficient, do you have enough bandwidth…? In these connections we are missing the intangible care and nurture that simple personal contact provides. I’m willing to bet, each of us pride ourselves on having a unique “company culture”, and I’m equally willing to bet that culture grew from the interconnectedness of personal interaction as life happens at the office.

    The other thing Dad taught me was that relationships matter, especially as situations change. Even as the mega-home improvement stores moved into town with nursery items at discounted prices, Dad kept taking us back to the same local merchant who had been supporting the O’Dell spring planting frenzy for years. The personal relationship meant something, but it was not developed over the phone or by text or email, it was the personal connection of bringing a family in to build something… us kids thought we were building a garden; Dad knew we were building the capacity to care about someone else. In that simple idea, he instilled the need and goal to serve other people.

    As structural engineers we serve society and our communities in ways even we do not fully understand and in more ways than we outwardly promote. To me that is at the heart of what we do and who we are. As someone else often says “we save lives every day”, but we do it behind the wrap. This often means we don’t get the recognition we deserve, yet when given the opportunity to receive recognition we most often step away from the limelight. People say this is because we are introverts… I tend to believe it is because we have a spirit of service that goes beyond personal gratification.

    As we enter the Spring Season, for many, a special time of renewal; I encourage you to seek an opportunity to reach out to a co-worker, client, neighbor, or SEAOSC colleague and renew a relationship that has been disconnected by our new (temporary) reality. This is one of the benefits of membership, connections and relationships with fellow engineers. Reach out and stay connected, and soon we will be back to sharing great stories before the refreshments get warm.

  • March 16, 2020 1:02 PM | SEAOSC Admin (Administrator)

    Ken O'Dell, SE

    President’s Message March 2020

    To say this is an unusual time, may be a serious understatement. I write this after just receiving notice that my daughter’s high school will be closing until at least April 20. While I will come back to comments regarding converting challenges to opportunities, I first want to highlight some good news.

    After convening over several diligent meetings, our nominations committee brought forth a fantastic slate of Board of Director candidates for ensuring the continuity of the Association’s mission. Under the guidance of Bob Lyons as Chair, our nominations committee (Kelsey Parolini, Matt Barnard, Brian Seamer, Lorena Arce, Liz Mahlow, Jesse Karns, Nils Fox, and Mehran Pourzanjani), with the Board’s concurrence, is pleased to put forth the following slate of nominees to serve as the 2020-2022 Director’s class, (as many will attest the term “class” is indeed appropriate given how much you learn as a Director). This year’s nominees include:

    Patricia Harburg-Petrich, SE | Buro Happold Engineering
    • Brett Beekman, SE | OSHPD
    • Susan Dowty, SE | ICC
    • Jesse Kearns, SE | MiTek USA, Inc.
    • Bernard Cruz, PE | Hilti North America

    Additional information including biographies and next steps of the confirmation/voting process is provided later in this Newsletter. Please join me in congratulating and welcoming these individuals to the Board starting July 2020.

    In other exciting news, we are pleased to share that a new Student Chapter has been recognized on the Cal State Fullerton campus. The students from the Society of Structural Engineers at CSUF will be now known as Student Members of SEAOSC as well through the student chapter affiliation. One of our focuses as a Board this year has been to continue solidifying these relationships with future leaders of our profession; be sure to welcome our new CSUF-based members at your next opportunity.

    Our committees have remained engaged and continue to bring forth great ideas. The Wood Committee is now up and running and beginning new discussions with the Seismology Committee regarding CLT and cantilever wood diaphragms. I’m sure we will see more information as they team together to expand our expertise. Of course, our education committee continues to bring presenters to our dinner tables and will be working to provide us some webinar-based opportunities as we all reduce external conference activities. We should also celebrate the work recently completed by our Communications Committee as they have worked to answer a request from the Policy Breakfast attendees in October of last year. We are now poised to release a New Buildings Fact Sheet to help explain levels of building performance to the general public. It is clear our committees are actively fulfilling their role in supporting the Mission of SEAOSC to empower our members and advance the Structural Engineering Profession in service to our community.

    As we empower each other and look to serve our community, it may be appropriate to see the current situation with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a time to confirm we are all prepared to serve when called. Many of you are volunteer responders through the Cal OES SAP program, and all of us are in a profession that is called to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public; not just our clients. We do this in many ways - usually focused on the built environment. While this focus does not change under our current situation, the situation can help us ensure we are prepared. Now would be a good time to test our own capacity to deal with unknowns and the heightened awareness and sensitivity to the societal issues occurring around us. We can test our own resilience and capacity to work and connect remotely. Perhaps we can convert the challenges we are faced with today as an opportunity to test or put in place processes to be able to respond to a disaster such as an earthquake where we may have limited access to the office, or we may need to make alternate care arrangements for our families to shelter-in-place if schools or other accommodations become severely damaged and are not occupiable.

    As you know, we started this year with a real-time test of our new SEAOSC Disaster Preparedness Plan, this plan helped shape ease of communication to our members and the community. Today’s situation is further testing that plan as we work through the dynamic process of decision making and information gathering. We are also learning how to respond to a rapidly changing situation, what was a good idea yesterday may not remain a good idea today. Our plan and your plans need to have flexibility integrated into the decision-making process. The current situation also highlights the good, and perhaps sometimes bad, power behind social media and the 24-hour news cycle. Discussions today seem to be significantly different than they were just 10-years ago when the Swine Flu infected nearly 61 million people in the United States ( This is NOT a commentary on the discussion or response then and now. It is only an observation that our experience responding to past earthquakes or disasters can shape, but will not be same as, our response next time. Our plans must be informed by, but not reliant on what we did or didn’t do last time. I suggest that we all test our plans now, make the necessary changes (or create a new plan) and take this opportunity to be assured that you and your team can respond when called.

  • February 12, 2020 6:27 PM | SEAOSC Admin (Administrator)

    Ken O'Dell, SE


    President’s Message February 2020

     Well, with the rush of January behind us, I realized I missed the opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year… so here’s to those belated wishes. I trust this finds you well and already kicking off the next decade with an abundance of enthusiasm. Whether the economy holds steady or begins a “correction”, 2020 promises to be exciting. One cannot help but “see 2020” as a year for visionary (yes…pun intended) endeavors. Before we head down the path and jump into new ideas, I thought it might be good to look back at our history and legacy as an Association.

    In 1929, SEAOSC was envisioned to advance the science of structural engineering; assist the public in obtaining dependable structural engineering services; encourage engineering education; maintain the honor and dignity of the profession and enlighten the public regarding the province of the structural engineer. Over the years SEAOSC has accomplished this through code development; invaluable research through the formation of the Applied Technology Council (ATC) and through exhaustive committee work; capacity building within our member firms through in depth professional and business practices; and of critical importance to our individual members, when we took advantage of it, the Association has, over the years, brought important engineering learning to each of our desks. This is 90 years of building the profession of Structural Engineering and this rich legacy remains embedded within the very nature of SEAOSC.

    In keeping this legacy alive, SEAOSC has undertaken significant recent efforts to ensure the Association remains relevant in fostering the profession. Committee activities remain a key avenue for our members to participate in these efforts while building rewarding relationships with colleagues and advancing critical initiatives, such as helping refine the approach to implementation of Soft-Story retrofit ordinances throughout Southern California. Conversations focused on ensuring good design solutions are embraced continue to take place with the City of Los Angeles as they approve more retrofits.

    The recent formation of the Wood Committee is intended to bring a collection of current and emerging wood experts together to provide our members with pertinent up-to-date information regarding new trends and the current practices for the design and construction of wood structures. With the approaching adoption of Mass Timber design practices this committee will seek to ensure we are engaged in the conversations. The committee will also seek to ensure conventional framing practices are enhanced and well understood by all. As wood structures continue to climb above traditional four to five and six story limits, our wood committee will help us navigate the issues in front of us. To help move that conversation forward, be on the look out for information and possibly a survey to help the committee focus on your critical Issues.

    After a slight delay, the Board is now seeking to form a similar concrete committee. As with wood, the concrete committee will be charged with consolidating and disseminating important information regarding emerge design and construction practices for the use and advancement of concrete in Southern California. Those of you who have expressed interest in this committee be forewarned, the snowball is beginning to pick up speed.

    With wood, concrete, and steel committees formed, SEAOSC will be better positioned to support the activities of our other committees by having a pool of resources that we can all tap into. Additionally, this year, two new coordinating committees were established. The Structural Standards Committee, chaired by our President-Elect, brings together the chairs of our technical committees, to ensure interaction and collaboration of ideas spreads between our committees. Similarly, our Treasurer is now tasked with chairing an Engagement Steering Committee, comprised of chairs of our Membership, YM, WiSE, Communications, and Education committees, to help bring engagement across the full breadth of our activities. A couple initiatives that have already come from these conversations include purposefully establishing a communications liaison within each committee to make sure content is brought back to our Communication Committee to be shared with our members. Additionally, a young member liaison is more purposefully being integrated within our technical and non-technical committees to help bridge the gap between our seasoned committee members and those who will make up the next committee cohort.

    Finally, you would have to be in a box (perhaps the one we are so often accused of designing) to miss the fact that the makeup of our profession is changing. 2020 promises to be a year of seeing the opportunities behind that change come into clearer view. Our current membership reflects increased engagement by students and young associates. School enrollment and recent graduation numbers suggest more women are, and will be, entering the field for structural engineering. As our demographics change, it is incumbent on the Association to embrace, nurture, and promote the opportunities that follow. This past year has been about building our capacity of engagement; ensuring we are focusing not only of the technical education of our members but engaging them and ourselves with opportunities to tap into non-technical professional growth activities. As we continue our engagement toward building a stronger community, each of us, especially those in leadership roles, will need to push ourselves to mentor our colleagues and encourage growth beyond just knowing how to provide the best design. Afterall, good design is just the result of using the right resources; and the best resource is a well-rounded individual with engineering skills who can look over the top of the box and see the bigger picture; we don’t just design structures.

    Structural Engineers design places where our communities live, work, play, and thrive.

    I look forward to seeing you thrive with us in 2020.

  • December 11, 2019 5:03 PM | SEAOSC Admin (Administrator)
    Ken O'Dell, SE


    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!   

  • November 20, 2019 12:58 PM | SEAOSC Admin (Administrator)

    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.

  • October 10, 2019 12:20 PM | SEAOSC Admin (Administrator)

    Ken O'Dell, SE

    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 ( 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 and be ready to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” at 10:17am on 10/17.

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The Structural Engineers Association of Southern California (SEAOSC) is the oldest structural engineering association in the world


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