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News: SEAOC News

A message from SEAOC President Joyce Fuss

Friday, September 27, 2019  

By Joyce Fuss, SE, 2018-2019 SEAOC President

If I could sum up the past year in a few words, it would be “ground-breaking”.  SEAOC accomplished several firsts, and completed some important projects thanks to our many dedicated project leaders, volunteers and committee members, as well as accomplishments by each of our local member organizations (MOs).  It has been a privilege to be a part of the many conversations and interaction, capped off with the celebration of our new Fellows and the Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards during the 2019 SEAOC Convention at Squaw Creek last month.  Congratulations to all recipients for these prestigious awards -- you are the newest representatives for the best of our association and profession in California.  Please take a few minutes and click for detailed information on each.
The convention was an incredible opportunity to connect with each other and learn about innovations and emerging technology for the practice of Structural Engineering.  The plenary and technical sessions were very enlightening and the opportunities outweighed the time available for me, as usual. You can access the proceedings in the SEAOC online bookstore.  There was also an added international flair including a guest speaker from New Zealand and a joint meeting between SEAOC and SESOC (Structural Engineers Society of New Zealand) -- more on that in the coming months.  During the board meeting each committee provided a year-end report and a plan for work over the coming year to the board.
As I reflect on this year, there are a few highlights that stand out.  At the SEAOC level the first ever Wind Design Manual was completed and published, and is available to order through links on the ICC and SEAOC websites.  A new edition of our historic Blue Book was also published and made available to SEAOC members as a commemorative printed 60th year version through the SEAOC Foundation (members attending the 2019 SEAOC Convention received a bound copy, and if you didn’t receive one there a copy can be requested on the SEAOC website bookstore).  The SEAOC Legislative Committee led the charge for SEAOC to become the official sponsor of a bill for the first time (AB393) in addition to providing technical expertise in advising on other bills.  SEAOC members participated in the first ever ICC Seismic Roundtable to explore a path forward for Seismic Functional Recovery in new construction, with SEAOC members Ryan Kersting and David Bonowitz among the featured speakers for their work with EERI and our ad-hoc Functional Recovery group.  The SEAOC Board and all committees established and worked hard to maintain a balanced budget, and managed our association’s financial resources throughout the year to end on a positive note (thanks to our Treasurer Brad Lowe who worked with the MOs to create a new more workable process for submitting and tracking dues). 
Our member organizations had several very impressive accomplishments this year as well, and many resources were exchanged and shared. Here are a few:

  • SEAONC undertook an emphasis on collaboration and increased communication between committees, and shared their SE3 committee’s resources with SEAOC and the other three MOs as well as NCSEA (all of which are in the process of or have since established their own SE3 committees); they also shared their strategic planning process and will be active in SEAOC planning over the coming year.
  • SEAOSC re-invented their mission and logo and developed and implemented the first ever disaster response plan during the Ridgecrest seismic events, which also provided an opportunity for quick communication from SEAOC to our membership and communities; they shared their new graphics and logos as well as the plan with the board and other MOs for consideration to use or adapt.
  • SEAOSD worked on the first phase of the special wind region study and invested in the San Diego-Tijuana Earthquake Scenario with the EERI San Diego chapter, a study of the risk due to a M6.9 earthquake on the Rose Canyon Fault.
  • SEAOCC created a new member portal platform and website, developed a new seismic design parameter tool available at no cost to all structural engineers in the wake of the changes to the USGS website resource, and initiated a state-wide snow load mapping project which will also be shared once completed.

This past year has also been packed with evolution of concepts for resiliency, new information, as well as many opportunities to engage on a deeper level with other organizations involved in initiatives that are critical to our profession and to our industry.  Here are a few examples:

  • SEAOC entered into an MOU with EERI to start work on a definition for the concept of “Functional Recovery” as a pre-disaster mitigation approach
  • The NEHRP (National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program) Reauthorization Act of 2018 resulted in the creation of the FEMA funded Project Technical Panel which will be chaired by our own Ryan Kersting and includes several SEAOC members (they are already hard at work on the task of developing recommendations for improving seismic safety standards for risk reduction and achieving  “functional recovery” for seismic events)
  • SEAOC sent our delegate Norm Scheel along with alternate delegates from each of our MOs to the NCSEA Summit in Chicago in November, and all returned in agreement that there are many benefits to our Associations due to the valuable resources available as well as the opportunity to continue our rich tradition of contributing to the strength of our profession through participation on NCSEA committees and initiatives
  • We worked with ATC to bring the examples for FEMA P2006 seminars and presentations to local in-person events

It has been my honor to serve as your President this year, and I thank you all for the opportunity and your support as well as all your hard work.  It has been an amazing year of “being in the kitchen” (thanks for that imagery, Chris Kamp!) to learn about what’s going on within our associations, and I have endeavored to pass much of that on to you, our members. I would also like to thank Past President Janah Risha, and board members Todd Kemen (SEAOCC),  Taryn Williams (SEAONC), Curtis Patterson (SEAOSD), and Bob Lyons (SEAOSC) who have completed their terms of service to the board.  Each of these individuals has shared generously not only their time but also a unique perspective which has contributed greatly to the continuity of our work on behalf of the Association.

I am very much looking forward to another busy and very impactful year on the SEAOC board as Past President, under the very capable leadership of Rafael Sabelli!  Let’s keep the trajectory of increased communication and collaboration on an upward exponential path and see what we can accomplish together. Here’s to a successful year and more SEAOC “firsts”!
With gratitude,
Joyce Fuss, 2018-2019 SEAOC President