February 2021 Print

President's Message

February 2021 

Last month we kicked off the new year with our annual T.R. Higgins lecture presented by Dr. Bo Dowswell. In case you missed it, click here for the presentation. Since my strengths are in math and science, I thoroughly enjoyed the lecture. If you thought you knew all you needed to know about gusset plates, think again. There was a lot of new information provided that is not apparent by just reviewing Dr. Dowswell's slides. Unfortunately, the virtual format is not very conducive to asking questions, so a lot of thoughts may not have been brought forward. However, I was still able to glean a lot of valuable information from the presentation. 

My main takeaway from the listening to the presentation was not that the “Whitmore stress block” still works even when its formulation was developed before the proof was evident with more rigorous testing and Finite Element Methods, but we as engineers have begun to rely on formulas without a full understanding or appreciation of the deep thinking that went into the derivation of that formulation. It is easy to look at the answer and say, “Oh that was simple”. I can assure you, for the person(s) who first came up with the idea or concept it was not. That person was the true pioneer. However, the knowledge and wisdom gained from that body of research, can be further developed by other researches. Being the first person to fly a plane, break the sound barrier, or break the record for running a mile in under four minutes sets the standard for others to follow. It creates the roadmap which we can build upon. If we do not understand the fundamentals, it is an undaunting task to further the science. To truly be a good engineer, we need to understand the fundamentals of the theory. This takes us out of the realm of being mere technicians and becoming engineers. We need to improve our ability to problem solve, and not just blindly follow prescriptive requirements, because not all engineering problems have cookie cutter answers and sometimes we need to think outside the box. But that is not possible unless we truly understand the parameters that frame the box.  To do that, we need to start with first principles.  

I received a call the other day by a structural engineer questioning why he was not being allowed to use a 1/3 increase in capacity for seismic? I cannot answer the question unless I have knowledge of why there is a 1/3 increase in the first place. The reasoning behind the 1/3 increase must be well understood before any decision can be made. Alternatively, a conservative design is not necessarily a good design. This brings me back to a quote from a previous Higgins lecture. “Reality is Equilibrium on the Deformed Shape”. This is the guiding principle for using camber in steel beams or the shape of the truss to design lighter and more efficient members.  

You may be wondering where I am going with this. I was a bit disappointed with the low number of persons who attended this important lecture. As an organizer for the event, I am unsure if it was the cost, or the topic or just that virtual meetings are not that appealing. Looking for your feedback as to what topics you would be interested in learning more about at future SEAOCC meetings.

Today there is a lot of talk about resilience and sustainability. At first it may seem these two concepts are incompatible. I can tell you they are not. It just needs a different way of thinking and requires use of state-of-the-art technology and innovation. Once we know what goals we are targeting, it is our duty as structural engineers to find cost effective and efficient solutions to successfully achieve those goals. To quote a famous scientist Albert Einstein, 

“Imagination is more important than knowledge, because knowledge is limited, but imagination encircles the world. Knowledge will get you from point A to point B but imagination will take you everywhere.”

In closing I want to remind you of our upcoming meetings this month, a virtual dinner time meeting on February 9th and lunchtime webinar on February 10th. I would also like to personally thank Ryan and Samantha Kersting for their generous donation to the SEAOCC scholarship fund. Click here to learn more on how you can donate. If you have ideas, or would like to volunteer with SEAOCC activities, please email me at [email protected]. Most of all, stay safe and healthy!

Roy Lobo, Ph.D., S.E.

2020-2021 SEAOCC President

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Calendar of Events

feb 5

Se3 Committee Meeting

Virtual Meeting at noon, Contact Anna Tekautz for Link


feb 9

Board of Directors Meeting & Membership meeting

Board of Directors Meeting, 3:30 p.m. - 5 p.m., Contact [email protected] 

Membership Meeting, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.: The Effect of the Pandemic on Future Hospital Design and Construction, Presented by Chris Tokas, S.E., F.SEAOC

Register for the Membership Meeting here!

feb 10

webinar: top 10 healthcare facilities opportunites for structural engineers 

Noon - 1 p.m., register now! View more information here. 

feb 12

Sustainability committee

Review SE2050 Challenge

Virtual Meeting at noon, Contact Lisa Podesto for Link

mar 5

SE3 Committee Meeting 

Virtual Meeting at noon, Contact Anna Tekautz for Link

mar 9

Board of Directors Meeting 

Virtual Meeting, 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Contact [email protected] 

Mar 9

aci joint membership  meeting - mosac (sacramento museum of science and curosity)

Presented by Larry Jones, S.E., LEED AP and Scott Mulligan, S.E.

Save the Date for this Virtual Meeting! 

Mar 12

Sustainability Committee 

Explore the Parksmart Program, Virtual Meeting at noon, Contact Lisa Podesto for Meeting Link

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Platinum Sponsors


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Committee Reports

SE3 Commitee 

By Anna Tekautz, S.E., SE3 Commiteee Chair

SE3 hosted an engaging panel discussion on January 27. Committee members Krista Looza and Kaylee Efstathiu moderated a 60-minute panel discussion with industry leaders Randy Collins, Joyce Fuss, Jason Horwedel, and Ken O’Dell.  The panel discussion was followed by a 30-minute networking session where attendees could ask panelists individual questions in a smaller breakout room setting. The panelists provided valuable insight and feedback on a variety of subjects and we thank them for taking the time to share their stories and experiences with SEOACC.  We are reminded that structural engineering is a challenging profession requiring great commitment, but it is also a rewarding and fulfilling profession we should be proud of.  

Of the attendees, 63% have considered leaving the structural engineering profession. We hope the panel discussion assured them they aren’t alone in their fears and uncertainties and we hope this event encouraged them to see the value in remaining engaged in this rewarding profession. Ken concluded the discussion with wise advice for difficult situations, “don’t get discouraged or challenged by the moment. Overcome the moment and look to the future to what those solutions will provide you so that you can benefit not only yourself, not only your firm, but most importantly the society we serve.” 

If you are interested in joining the SE3 committee or have topics you would like the committee to discuss, please reach out to Anna Tekautz at [email protected]

Panelists and Moderators

Breakout Room 1

Breakout Room 2

Breakout Room 3

Breakout Room 4

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Gold Sponsors

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Job Forum

Job Posting
Jan. 28, 2021


Job Posting
Dec. 22, 2020


Job Posting
Dec. 22, 2020


Job Posting
Dec. 22, 2020


Job Seeker
Nov. 25, 2020

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Welcome New Members

new members approved on january 12, 2021

Carlos Ortiz - CDM Smith - Member SE

new members posted on january 12, 2021

Todd Petrick - Mead & Hunt - Member

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Ask SEAOCC Leadership

If you had to wake up tomorrow as an animal, which would you want to be? Why?

"I would want to wake up as a dog so I can talk to my own pups and actually understand them." - Leticia Valenzuela

"I would be a champion race horse because they get to live a pretty plush lifestyle." - Jeremy Kellogg

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Board of Directors

Roy Lobo, S.E.


Vice President
Devon Lumbard, S.E.


Tim Piland, S.E.


Past President
Ben Faircloth, S.E.


Director - Central District
Allison Konwinski, S.E.


Director - Central District
Rachel Leung, S.E.


Director - Central District
Laura Rice, S.E.


Director - Central District
Louay Shamrokh, S.E.


Director - East District
Brett McElhaney, S.E.


Director - North District
Jeremy Kellogg, S.E.


Director - South District
Doug Mayer, S.E.


Nick Herskedal, S.E.


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