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News: SEAOC News

A message from SEAOC President Janah Risha

Monday, April 30, 2018  

Tax time and SEAOC Foundation

I’m writing this message just after tax time.  As you ponder and evaluate your tax obligations, both now and in the future, and are deciding where you want to make tax deductible charitable contributions, please consider the SEAOC Foundation.  The Mission Statement of the Foundation, which was approved in May 2017 is as follows:

The SEAOC Foundation envisions a future of safer buildings and stronger, more resilient communities. This is attained by: 
Fostering scholarship programs that develop the next generation of California structural engineers.
Funding technical publications that share engineering solutions and best practices.
Supporting research projects that add to engineering knowledge and innovation.

Donating is quite easy through the website by clicking on the Foundation tab at the top of the page.  No donation is too small; every little bit helps. If you’d like to donate securities or would like to include the SEAOC Foundation in your estate planning, please contact Don Schinske, the Foundation’s executive director.

Visits to SEAOCC and SEAOSC

It is customary for the SEAOC President to visit all four member organizations during his or her term, attending both a Board meeting and a dinner meeting.  I attended the SEAOCC meetings on March 13. Our colleagues in Central California are active in several areas including continuing to update the USGS seismic design map tool, led by Ali Sumer; Ali is formulating a working group consisting of programmers at all levels to help get the web site and system functioning at the fullest capacity.  If you have programming capability and want to help, please email Ali at   

The SEAOCC Board has initiated contacts with local universities to establish student chapters. Proposed activities that can benefit the students include a career fair; providing representatives to speak on structural materials and discuss case study examples; and provide professional expertise to design classes.  It was announced that UC Davis is moving forward with the formation of a student chapter.

The dinner meeting was very well attended, with over 50 in attendance.  The presentation on the Tesla Gigafactory, by Greg Luth and John Osteraas, was very informative and entertaining.  

On April 4, I attended the SEAOSC Board and dinner meetings in downtown Los Angeles. SEAOSC is undertaking monumental and trail-blazing tasks in many aspects including seismic safety and resilience as well as promotion of structural engineering. I would like to highlight two of these activities: 

The Safer Cities program is an extremely useful and timely effort; it was initiated to provide a resource for engineers and jurisdictions to encourage safe and resilient communities. It includes Safer Cities Survey, Safer Cities Advisory Program, and Safer Cities Reconnaissance.  SEAOSC is acting in an advisory capacity for City and County policies pertaining to developing a mitigation strategy, establishing an inventory of vulnerable buildings within a city, assisting in the development of draft retrofit ordinances, and providing input toward the creation of a back-to-business program. 

In the area of outreach, SEAOSC will be participating in a documentary, Quake Heroes, that is being produced by the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) and Blue Tavern Productions.  This documentary is about the Northridge Earthquake. The documentary will include stories about the people who experienced the earthquake, with a focus on actions they took to help others. It will also provide information on the importance of earthquake preparedness, including retrofitting vulnerable buildings.  A structural engineer will speak about his/her experience regarding Northridge, and possibly other earthquakes, as well as the role of the structural engineer in community earthquake preparedness, response, and recovery.  The documentary is expected to be released around the 25th anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake next year. 

I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the SEAOCC and SEAOSC Boards for their commitment and hard work as well as for their gracious hospitality. In my next President’s message I will report on my visits to San Diego and Northern California.

Communication Committee Update
The Communications Committee, chaired by Ken O'Dell, has been very active. The committee is tackling  several projects to enhance the Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards, increase the visibility of SEAOC, and inform the public of the essential nature of the Structural Engineering profession. 

In addition, the committee has issued press releases and communicated with journalists regarding the recent ravaging fires in the State, current legislation, and other current affairs.
The speakers bureau concept is taking hold and there are several ideas being considered on the type and format of a presentation.  Once such approach is to produce a video featuring  a family in the daily mundane activities, highlighting the direct relevancy of structural engineering.   

Other items for consideration

The California legislature is now in full swing.  Ryan Kersting, our Legislative Committee Chair, Legislative Committee members, and Executive Director Schinske are hard at work participating in the legislative process, and bringing SEAOC’s expertise and positions on the two bills that we are monitoring closely:  AB 1857 and AB 2681. 

Along the same lines, SEAOC is continuing efforts to advocate for a SE Practice Act, through its participation in the NCSEA Licensing committee, and monitoring potential opportunities with the California Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists.   

Navigating the legislative process requires patience, diplomacy, and a long term view.  Perhaps we won’t get what we want immediately; however, we can certainly plant the seeds for future bills that we can develop and support.
In conclusion, if you are involved in your MO, thank you and stay involved.  If you’re not, please get involved.  At the very least, attend the events and the educational activities; it is time very well spent.