July 2020 Print

President's Message

It is an honor and a privilege to serve you as the President of the Structural Engineers Association of Central California (SEAOCC) for fiscal year 2020 – 2021. My goal is to maintain the high bar that the past presidents have set and provide value to our membership which is the life blood that keeps the association thriving.

As the new SEAOCC fiscal year begins and the new leadership takes the reins of the organization to lead it into a future full of prospects, I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank the previous board, and all those who served before them to keep this association flourishing. At this point I want to congratulate, welcome and introduce Vice President, Devon Lumbard, and Directors, Laura Rice, Rachel Leung, and Brett McElhaney to the SEAOCC Board of Directors. They will join me, along with Past President, Benjamin Faircloth, Treasurer, Timothy Piland, and Directors, Louay Shamroukh, Allison Konwinski, Jeremy Kellogg, and Doug Mayer. In addition, Ben and I will represent SEAOCC on the Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC) Board of Directors.

Furthermore I want to especially thank 2018-2019 Past President, Dr. Ali Sumer for his hard work and dedication to SEAOCC for the last couple of years. He was instrumental in the transition to our new website platform StarChapter, the pioneer of the “SEAOC Seismic Design Map Software” tool on our website available at no charge as an invaluable contribution to our profession.  

This year’s and future Boards will benefit from the many outstanding contributions and accomplishments by our outgoing board members on completion of their service.

Working under Coronavirus Pandemic Conditions

With so much change happening in such a short time we are struggling to meet the new challenges in front of us. In addition, as most of you probably know, our long-term executive secretary Lori Campbell retired last year, and we have been scrambling ever since. Fortunately, we were able to find a new executive secretary Mary Lee Hellner to fill that role. Unfortunately, soon after her hire in February of this year, there was the shutdown precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, we did not get opportunities to introduce her to our community via the various programs and activities such as our June dinner meeting where we celebrate our new inductees (this year was Ryan Kersting) into the SEAOC college of Fellows and announce our Excellence in Structural Engineering Award winners (Lionakis and Buehler). In addition, our processes have had to change to adapt to the new ways of doing business. That said there is a lot to learn for myself and Mary Lee and ways we can effectively communicate with you to provide you the best value for your membership. In the words of economist Susan Athey:

“People will change their habits, and some of these habits will stick. There’s a lot of things where people are just slowly shifting, and this will accelerate that.” 

I am therefore asking you for your help and support so together we can get through these uncertain times and put things on track to embrace the new normal.

Ways You can Contribute?

The structural engineering profession so far appears to be relatively resilient to economic volatilities that have been created in the country and the state by COVID-19. That said I would beseech you to take this opportunity to invest in our profession and give back to the community in this hour of need. There are various committees that are in search of new leadership and members to join. Seismology, Existing Buildings, SE-3, Resilience, etc. to name a few are committees that need your participation, leadership and input. When I started my new job at OSHPD and moved to Sacramento from Los Angeles, my supervisor and mentor at the time Chris Tokas, told me to join the existing buildings committee. It was difficult at first as the meetings were after hours and some of the topics discussed at the time seemed foreign to me. However, I stuck with it and little did you know I found myself chair of the local EBC, the state EBC and now am on the ASCE 41-23 committee and chairing the foundations subcommittee. This would not have happened were it not for the experience and knowledge gained by getting involved with committees at SEAOCC and harnessing a lot of institutional knowledge and relationships that has been very valuable for me to grow both personally and professionally. In the words of James Salk, “The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more”. Investing in our profession is a long-term commitment. At first it will seem like a struggle; you may get intimidated by the depth of knowledge of the people already on these committees that may make you shy and reticent to express your views and ideas. But over time you will find your involvement with the SEAOCC committees very rewarding. 

Don’t let opportunities pass you by, getting involved is the only way you can maximize the gain from your membership. Not participating is like paying for gym membership which you use infrequently or not at all. If there are ideas you want to promote, join code committees, gain experience in public speaking, etc., now is your opportunity. Be passionate about what you do, challenge the establishment, stand up and be counted, become a leader. I leave you with this quote by Margaret Mead:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has”. 

We look forward to your continued membership, participation, and support!

Thank you.

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

2020-2021 SEAOCC President


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Calendar of Events


July Board of Directors Meeting - July 14th
Virtual Meeting

SE Committe Meeting - July 24th
Virtual Meeting

YMF Virtual Happy Hour - July, Details TBA
Look out for more information in your inbox soon!
CEC Webinars 
  • July 9th - Designing Effective Meetings: How to Have More Productive Meetings with Fewer Frustrations
  • July 30th - Mentoring Your Young Engineers - By Building Your In-house Curriculum
  • August 13th - Engineered Wood Products Detailing and Specification in Multi-Family/Light Commercial Construction: Best Practices for a Better Build


Click here to see our calendar for the most up-to-date information!

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Incoming Board Members

  Central director

Laura Rice, S.E.

Laura Rice, SE, is a Project Engineer in the Degenkolb Sacramento office where she is currently pursuing her passion of seismic analysis and design while focusing in the Healthcare and Forensics practice areas. She has been involved in SEAOC as an organization since her freshman year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, holding multiple board positions that culminated in her Presidency in her senior year. 

She was an active member of SEAONC while working in the Degenkolb Oakland office, where she participated in the Existing Buildings Committee, the Hensolt Legacy Committee, and the 2016 Maui Convention Committee.

Since moving to Sacramento two years ago, she has served as SEAOCC’s Membership Chair, helping with the transition to StarChapter and creating our new system for membership dues processing. She was also a member of the 2019 Tahoe Convention Committee. She has a passion for promoting our profession, collaborating with colleagues, mentoring our young engineers, and engaging with our membership.


nick herskedal, s.e.

Nick is a licensed structural engineer working at Buehler with eight years of work experience.  He began his engineering career after receiving his bachelors and master’s degree in Architectural Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.  He started as an engineer in San Francisco, where he worked from 2012 to 2017.  While in San Francisco, he was a member of SEAONC and became the Vice co-chair and Co-chair of the Young Members Forum. 

In 2017, he relocated to Sacramento.  Since then, he has passed the SE exam, become a mentor in the CREATE program, and last year he and wife had a baby boy and had their hands full.  Now that he has had time to settle into Sacramento, he is very excited to get back into the great work that SEAOCC accomplishes.  He has a wide range of interests from mentoring to legislation.  He believes that the structural engineering profession has a great responsibility in the world; one that is not widely understood and it is SEAOCC’s great responsibility to help guide our profession, provide resources for educating our members, and represent the work we do to the general public. For this reason, he has been asked by the President of SEAOCC to serve as Secretary for the association which he has gladly accepted.  He will be reaching out to the membership from time to time, so please give him your full cooperation and support to help him better serve the needs of SEAOCC in this new role. 

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Reelected Board Members

  Vice President

Devon Lumbard, S.E.

Devon is a Principal with Degenkolb Engineers in Sacramento and a licensed Structural Engineer in the State of California. He originally joined Degenkolb Engineers in 2005 in Portland, before transferring to the Bay Area and finally returning closer to home in the Sierra Foothills.  He currently leads the local healthcare and forensic practice areas.

His service to the profession includes the chair of the SEAOC Ad-hoc Wildfire Committee and co-chair Legislative Committee along with Ryan Kersting.  Devon has also served on our SEAOCC Board of Directors this last year.  He is a voting member of the American Wood Council’s NDS Committee and the NDS’s Special Design Provisions for Wind and Seismic standard, as well as a member of the ASCE 41 subcommittee for wood.

He is grateful for all SEAOCC and SEAOC has provided him in his development as an engineer.  In these uncertain times, he is even more motivated to find ways for the organization to continue to support the professional development of members and grow the membership.

  Central District

Rachel Leung, P.E.

This is Rachel's 2nd term as a Director and she is a Project Engineer at CYS Structural Engineers, Inc. She holds a Masters in Structural Engineering at UC San Diego and Bachelors in Civil Engineering at UC Berkeley. She joined CYS in 2015 and soon after became involved in SEAOCC. Rachel has been the SEAOCC Newsletter Editor for four years, as well as being a part of the SEAOCC Existing Buildings Committee and the 2019 Squaw Creek SEAOC Commitee. She is excited to promote the profession and member engagment in our community.


Brett McElhaney, S.E.

Brett started his professional career in the social sciences, earning a B.S. in Psychology from Midwestern State University in 1991 and subsequently working for the State of Texas at a 500-patient mental hospital.  After a period of time, he became disenchanted with the political and bureaucratic environment and, likely coupled with a bit of the “grass is greener syndrome”, he decided he wanted a career change and to explore somewhere other than his hometown.  He had family in Nevada so moved out west, opened the catalog of the University of Nevada, Reno, looked at every degree they offered and decided engineering sounded mighty interesting.  Brett then earned a B.S. and an M.S. in Civil Engineering (while exploring the Sierras every spare moment he had) in 1997 and 1999, respectively.  In 2005, when he achieved his California structural license he went out on his own and started his own consulting firm. He worked out of his basement for a couple of years and has since grown to thirteen people.  He holds an SE license in California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Texas and Maryland and has recently had his business certified, by the states of California and Nevada, as Native American owned, based on his Cherokee Nation citizenship.  Because he enjoys school and have been running his business as an engineer, with no formal business training or classes, he decided to go back to school for an MBA and graduated in Spring of 2015.  This experience has really added another dimension to his mind.  In Nevada, he's presented code seminars to building officials, engineers, architects, contractors and lawyers in order to spread the knowledge, to be a proponent of good structures and to help people understand why it is important and how it is accomplished.  He also enjoys mentoring new engineers fresh out of school and teaching them the profession. He's been involved in SEAOCC for his entire career and make the drive over whenever possible.  He enjoys the flow of energy, meeting like-minded people and exchanging ideas.  He believes it is unfortunate that there is not a SEAOCC presence on this side of the Sierras and welcomes the opportunity to do his part to change that.  Some of the other accomplishments and involvements that Brett is proud of in his career are that he has taught as adjunct faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno, He is a charter member of the Structural Engineering Institute (SEI), holds the civil/structural seat on the City of Sparks Board of Appeals for Building Code Issues, is a structural engineer member of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) Post-Disaster Responders, and is a NV State Board of Professional Engineers Advisory Committee member and has also added a Contractor license into the mix. He has performed peer reviews for the Journal of Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics, and is a co-author of “Assessment of Steel and Fiber Reinforced Plastic Jackets for Seismic Retrofit of Reinforced Concrete Columns with Structural Flares” in the ASCE Journal of Structural Engineering.  He also co-authored Seismic Retrofit of Non-Prismatic RC Bridge Columns. 

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Outgoing Board Members

  Past President

Ali Sumer, Ph.D., S.E.

Dr. Ali Sumer is the supervisor of the Seismic Compliance Unit (SCU) in OSHPD. The SCU is responsible for review and approval of seismic compliance projects and tracking the progress hospitals in California are making towards meeting their seismic compliance standards as required by law. Prior to becoming supervisor of the SCU, Dr. Sumer was a District Structural Engineer with OSHPD. While in that role he was fully committed to the activities and success of the Structural Engineers Association of Central California (SEAOCC). Over the last three years he served as Vice President, President, and Past President of SEAOCC, was the Board Contact to the 2019 Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC) Convention Committee, and as President and Past President, was a member of the SEAOC Board of Directors. While in those roles he brought tremendous change and glory to our association and put us on a path to ensure the longevity and relavance of our association. The “SEAOC Seismic Design Maps” on our website was instituted because of his vision and creation. This website is now being used at no cost by users all over the world. He also created new opportunities for SEAOCC members to get engaged with the association.  Examples of this included: Obtaining initial grant funding from the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA) to start the SEAOCC Snow Load Committee; forming the SEAOCC Drone Club which put on a great event at the 2019 SEAOC Convention where our association got first place and introduced other Member Organizations to this new concept; and participation on the SEAOC Wildfire Ad Hoc Committee with the end result serving as a resource guide for members in California, to name a few. While not the 2019 SEAOC Convention Chair, he dedicated enormous time and effort to make sure that the 2019 SEAOCC Convention in Squaw Creek was a roaring success and very profitable for SEAOC. In addition to his leadership roles while part of the executive team of SEAOCC, he has also served as Chair of the SEAOCC Seismology Committee, Vice Chair of SEAOC Earthquake Performance Rating System (EPRS)  Committee, Building Seismic Safety Council (BSSC) Representative for SEAOCC, Chair of the SEAOCC Existing Buildings Committee, a Cal OES Disaster Service Worker, and a SEAOC Earthquake Performance Evaluation Program Volunteer as testimony of his volunteer work for our association. With the completion of his tenure on the SEAOCC board, he has now transitioned to tackle bigger and more challenging tasks that SEAOC faces. As such his absence from the SEAOCC Board of Directors will be missed, but we are ever grateful for his years of service to our association. We will still be relying on his wisdom and guidance this year and the years ahead.

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Membership Dues Reminder

Membership Invoices Sent

By Laura Rice, S.E., Membership Chair

Hello SEAOCC!! It’s July, and along with the sweltering heat of summer comes a new fiscal year. As such, your membership renewals were emailed on July 2nd to the address on file for those paying as individuals, and to firm representatives for companies participating in firm renewals. If you have not done so already, please check your status and renew your membership dues by loging into your Starchapter account available via the seaocc.org website under "Member Area". There you can find the links necessary to pay via credit card or check. Please note that per our bylaws, a late fee will be applied beginning October 15th.

If your membership grade is incorrect, please notify us as soon as possible via email sent to [email protected].  Please also review and update your membership profile. Updating your member profile will allow us, SEAOC, and NCSEA to better serve you. If your firm participates in the firm renewal program, please check with your firm administrator that your name and correct email address is on email list sent back to SEAOCC with the payment so that there is no interruption in your membership. We look forward to your continued membership, participation, and support!

Please let us know if you have any questions.

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Committee Reports

SEAOCC SE3 committee

By Anna Tekautz, S.E., SE3 CHAIR

We hope you took the opportunity to participate in the 2020 national NCSEA SE3 Survey. The survey results provide valuable insight into how we can progress as an organization, as firms, and as individuals.  

As a committee, we have been interested in how our local community compared to the national results shared in the 2018 national NCSEA SE3 survey. We would like to share some specific SEAOCC results gathered from the 2018 survey; we hope understanding local trends will better serve our local firms and engineers. SEAOCC trends were consistent with national results regarding gender and race demographics and flexibility benefits offered. Unique takeaways for our region include:

  • We had higher reports of “Staff” level at 20.3% compared to 14.4%* and 12.0%**.
  • We had lower reports of “Project Engineer” level at 15.6% compared to 28.6%* and 26.2%**.
  • We had a higher percentage of people planning to stay in the profession for 5+ years at 79.4% compared to 72.5%* and 75.6%*.
  • We had a lower percentage of people who ever considered leaving the profession at 49.2% compared to 62.5%* and 58.9%**.
  • We ranked Work Life Balance Satisfaction higher at 65.1% compared to 54.6%* and 55.8%**.
  • We had the shortest one-way commute at 21.6 minutes compared to 34.5* and 29.9**.
  • When adjusted for cost of living, we enjoy higher pay than our peers across the nation; please see graphs below. Pay is defined as the sum of annual base pay, overtime pay, and bonuses.  


SEAOCC results are based upon 66 responses from the Central region including: Sacramento, Redding, Reno, and Fresno.  

* 600+ Coastal California Responses

** 2900+ Nationwide Responses

The complete 2018 National SE3 Survey results may be accessed here:  http://www.ncsea.com/downloads/files//Committees/SE3/NCSEA%202018%20Study%20Report_final.pdf. Please note the 2020 survey closed in June; we look forward to sharing those results when available. 


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Welcome New Members


Jennifer Elwood, Jacobs Engineering - Member S.E.
Amaya Davis, Miyamoto - Associate
Timothy Tsukamoto, Miyamoto - Member S.E.
Ryan Petucci, Advanced Structural Design - Associate



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Job Forum

Job Posting
Jun. 5, 2020


Design Engineer

Response Structural Engineers

Job Posting
Jun. 1, 2020


Job Seeker
May. 1, 2020


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Become a Leader in Community Resilience

By Anna Lang Ofstad, phD and Jonathan Buckalew, S.E., SEAOC Resilience Committee Chairs

Structural engineers are adept at designing buildings to achieve the life safety, but the building code is silent on recovering building functionality after an earthquake. The public and policy makers are showing an increased interest in making our communities more resilience. Design tools (e.g. FEMA P58, SP3 software) allow engineers to go beyond life safety and evaluate buildings based on recovery time and repair costs. Rating systems communicate the performance of buildings to the public. It’s now a reality: engineers have the tools to design buildings for functional recovery within a specified time frame for a given hazard. 

Predicting building performance after an earthquake

The SEAOC Resilience Committee is developing a series of articles to educate engineers on how they can contribute to and become leaders in community resilience. The articles will review the terminology associated with community resilience, present economic benefits of resilience design, and explore design and communication tools like FEMA P58 and rating systems.  If you are interested in becoming a leader in community resilience or would like to know more about the subject, please check out the first article titled “Structural Engineer’s Guide to Become Leaders in Community Resilience” in the July edition of SEAOC Talk. If you are interested in joining the resilience committee, we welcome your participation; please email Jonathan Buckalew ([email protected]) and Anna Lang Ofstad ([email protected]).

Pounding of Existing Buildings and Buildings over Faults

By Daniel Zepeda, S.E. & Sandy Hohener, S.E.

Members of the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California – Existing Building Committee are soliciting input on a survey.  The survey is developed to better understand the state of the Structural Engineering Practice with respect to building separation requirements for existing buildings (pounding) and with respect to existing buildings over faults.  The intent of soliciting input on the state of practice is to better understand what code provisions need to be developed to offer appropriate guidance to the Structural Engineering Practice and to bring consistency to the implementation of these complex issues. We would appreciate if you can take the survey by clicking on the link below related to these two topics that are heavily debated in seismic retrofits specifically those triggered by ordinances. Survey results will be used to develop a couple of papers for the upcoming SEAOC virtual conference. 


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Photo Gallery

Click here for our photo gallery. 

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Ask SEAOCC Leadership

You're Planning a Week Long Vacation as a Solo Trip. What Type of Destination Do You Choose - Beach, Mountains, City, Forest, or Desert?

"None of the above: Desolate Island." - Tim Piland

"Mountains, just me and my bike." - Jeremy Kellogg

"A deserted, mountain, forest, beach." - Ben Faircloth

"I'm going to cheat and say the Mendocino Coast, because I can get the beach, the mountains, and the forest all in one." - Laura Rice

"Mountains." - Nick Herskedal

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