SEAOCC Student Design Competition

Every year during the fall semester, teams from several of the local universities gather to prove their engineering superiority in the SEAOCC Student Design Competition. The rules and format for the competition vary from year to year, but they always test each team’s ability to design and construct a structural element that will then be tested to failure. Design, construction, and testing are typically completed in the course of a single Saturday in early November at the structural engineering lab of one of the competing universities. The competition culminates with the SEAOCC Student Night membership meeting, typically held on the second Tuesday in November, at which each team presents the design of their structural element and the results of the testing to dinner meeting attendees. Winners are chosen based on both test results and presentation quality. In addition to bragging rights for an entire year, winning teams receive monetary awards, each of which provides ample motivation for students to keep the competition at a high level. For a profile of the most recent design competition, click HERE (pdf). Monetary prizes for the Student Design Competition are funded by generous donations made to SEAOCC’s scholarship fund; if you are interested in supporting this event, please print and fill out the Scholarship Donation Form (pdf) and return it with your contribution to the address near the bottom of the form.

ACE Mentor Program

The ACE Mentor Program is a national mentoring program that brings professionals in Architecture, Construction and Engineering into the lives of high school students through a school-year-long project. These professionals volunteer to become mentors in order to introduce the students to each profession and give them guidance on how to pursue their field of interest. Each year, teams from participating schools are tasked with producing a Request for Proposal for a real world project. They must provide a written proposal and develop drawings, schedules, and costs for the project under consideration. Students also visit mentors’ offices and construction sites to see the process in action. At the end of the school year the students present their projects to a panel of judges in competition for the title in various award categories.

ACE’s mission is to encourage high school students to pursue careers in one of the many fields in our industry and to support their continued advancement through scholarships and grants. The Sacramento ACE Chapter has expanded since 2007 from mentoring in three high schools in the region to 15 in 2012, enabling the program to reach over 300 high school students.

Many SEAOCC members support the ACE program in various ways, including volunteering their time as mentors, providing donations, and attending fund raisers. SEAOCC supports the ACE program, and more specifically students, by offering a scholarship to one student who expresses intent to pursue Structural Engineering as a career. It is SEAOCC’s mission to promote and support our profession, and what better way than by mentoring and supporting our future engineers?

For more detailed information about the ACE Mentor Program and ways you can get involved, please visit or watch this YouTube video.

Engineers Day at the Mall

Each year in February coinciding with the National Engineers’ Week, SEAOCC happily joins with ASCE and other engineering organizations to sponsor “Engineer’s Day at the Mall”. Volunteer engineers from each organization create fun and imaginative games and crafts aimed at getting children exposed to and excited about engineering. Children of all ages and their families are encouraged to stop by and join in the fun! Joyce Copelan spearheads SEAOCC’s efforts for this event, which in past years has included such activities as gum drops and tooth pick structures, popsicle stick bridges, steel bridges, compression arch construction, and rolled newspaper and duct tape frames. Photos and articles about past years’ activities can be found in these excerpts from the Dimensions newsletter (pdf). For details about this year’s event, please download the Engineers Day 2012 Brochure (pdf), and bring your young ones to play! Please contact the SEAOCC office if you are interested in volunteering a couple hours of your time to help with this important outreach activity.

NCEES Structural Engineering Exam Development

In 2012 the State of California began using the NCEES 16-hour Structural Engineering Exam as its only exam for licensure of California Structural Engineers. The state is now using the same exam that is being used across the country, and this new exam has been expanded significantly to include both high-wind and high-seismic problems. California SEs have been involved in item-writing, grading, and standard-setting for the new NCEES SE Exam for several years now. The NCEES SE Exam Committee conducts item-writing and grading sessions approximately six times a year, much of the time at the NCEES headquarters in Clemson, South Carolina (although it has also been meeting in California for the past several years). NCEES recognizes that California-licensed SEs are particularly well-versed in high-seismic design and, as such, welcomes and encourages them to assist with all parts of the exam process. It is not necessary for an engineer to commit to all six meetings every year, and those that can only attend two or three item-writing or grading sessions are still encouraged to participate. In order for this exam to be relevant and useful for California, it is critical that California-licensed SEs be involved in the exam process. For information on how you can get involved please contact Carl Josephson, S.E.

Cal EMA Safety Assessment Program

The California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) has a Safety Assessment Program (SAP) through which volunteer civil and structural engineers, building officials, and architects are dispatched after major hazard events to evaluate the relative safety of buildings and other infrastructure for human occupancy. The focus of these inspections is first and foremost detailed assessment of essential facilities and subsequently rapid assessment of businesses and homes in order to reduce the demand on temporary shelters and services. Evaluations are performed based on ATC-20 guidelines in the case of earthquake damage and ATC-45 in the case of flood and/or wind damage, and are intended to assess only the safety of the structures, not repair costs or even compliance with code.

As SAP’s mission aligns closely with SEAOCC’s mission to protect public safety in the built environment while also increasing public awareness of the important role of the structural engineering profession, SEAOCC encourages its members to volunteer as evaluators and trainers for the SAP program. For more detail about the program, visit the Cal EMA SAP website.